Former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya was yesterday charged with abuse of office and ordered to pay Shs50 million in bail money in a case related to the Commonwealth summit held in Kampala four years ago.
Prof. Bukenya, who was sacked last month ahead of the constitution of a new Cabinet, paid the cash and also deposited his diplomatic passport in court as required by his bail terms.
IGG on spot
The charges stem from an investigation by the Inspectorate of Government into the procurement of executive cars for the meeting which concluded that Prof. Bukenya was culpable.
Without escorts, the former vice president was driven into the Kololo-based Anti-Corruption Court Division in a government vehicle at around 9am and was arraigned before Grade One Magistrate Sarah Langa before whom he denied the charges.
Ms Langa accepted that “the offence is bailable and court agrees with the submissions for bail. The accused person is released on cash bail of Shs50 million and he is ordered to deposit his passport which he can always apply for.”
Shs200m for sureties
She then bonded each of the six sureties at Shs200 million each.
Prof. Bukenya presented friends Jessy Mukwaya, Henry Kaweesa, Edward Mogo, Fred Kasoma, John Seninde and Felix Mumbere as sureties as the police deployed heavily and attempted to stop journalists from covering the event.
The former VP’s attorneys MacDusman Kabega and Enos Tumusiime objected to the two charges of abuse of office and fraudulent practice, saying the cases were ‘incurably defective’.
“Our client is being charged jointly with a limited liability company. Now, I understand that the company is represented by a lawyer who has registered to defend it. He cannot be taken as a suspect at the same time. The company is supposed to appear through its designated officers as they appeared in company documents,” said Mr Kabega who failed to secure court review on whether Prof. Bukenya should deposit his passport.
Mr Kabega asked court to strike out the charges, saying they do not comply with provisions of the law on how charges should be framed.
Earlier, prosecution had requested that the former vice president’s movement be restricted to a radius of 100 kilometres from court and his Busiro North constituency.
However, Mr Kabega told court that limiting Prof. Bukenya’s movements infringes on his client’s constitutional right to free movement within the country and that, as an African man, it would constrain his attendance of social gatherings. Mr Kabega also said that his client no longer possessed a passport.
“He had a diplomatic passport but has since left office and he is yet to get another passport. The issue of the passport by the prosecution … is not needed. By his status he has demonstrated that he is capable of attending all sessions,” he said.
The prosecutor objected and said that like any other privileges given to persons of Prof. Bukenya’s status, it couldn’t be true that the applicant didn’t have a passport. The matter was resolved after Prof. Bukenya’s lawyers reportedly contacted the office of the Vice President which delivered the said passport to court.