I acted for the President, says Bukenya

Thursday June 23 2011

Former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya

Former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya  

By Anthony Wesaka & Jacinta Odongo

Former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya has moved to block the Inspector General of Government from prosecuting him before the Anti-Corruption Court, saying that his actions during the purchase of the 2007 Chogm vehicles were done on behalf of the President.

In an application filed before the Constitutional Court, Prof. Bukenya (right) says his trial contravenes the Constitution, because the Office of the Vice President derives its mandate from that of the President and, therefore, since he had been assigned the function of overseeing preparations for the summit by the President, it follows that he is protected from prosecution for actions done in an official capacity under Article 98(5) of the Constitution.

“Chairing of the cabinet subcommittee meetings, I was performing my duties as the Vice President, acting on behalf of the Presidency and I was not doing so in a personal capacity as provided in Article 108(3)a and (b) of the Constitution,” Prof. Bukenya states in an affidavit accompanying the application.

Presidential immunity
Article 98(5) of the Constitution gives immunity to the President while still in office. Prof. Bukenya is facing two charges of abuse of office and fraudulent practice, preferred on June 16 by the IGG, in relation to the procurement of executive cars for the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala.

The former Vice President, who chaired the cabinet sub-committee on Chogm, is jointly charged with Motorcare (U) Ltd, the company which supplied the 204 executive vehicles. Prof. Bukenya has denied the first charge of abuse of office but has challenged the charge of fraudulent practice, saying Motorcare had not appeared before the court on June 16, only sending their lawyer. The case comes up again on July 18.

The IGG says the Shs9.4 billion Chogm car deal was awarded to Motorcare (U) Ltd under the ‘personal’ influence of Prof. Bukenya without proper tendering.
The tender for the supply of the 204 executive cars to transport heads of state attracted controversy after it was first awarded to Spear Motors Ltd for outright purchase but later reversed and awarded to Europcar/Motorcare (U).

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The Chogm transport evaluation committee had on May 8, 2007 selected Spear Motors Ltd, but later the decision was reversed after Prof. Bukenya insisted that the award should be cancelled and the deal be for renting. Prof. Bukenya reasoned that the country could not afford the outright purchase.

Collective responsibility
In his application, coming up for hearing today, Prof. Bukenya states that decisions that came out of the sub-committee meetings on Chogm that he chaired on the President Museveni’s directives were taken collectively. As such, the ex-VP says his instructions, were decisions of the cabinet and not those of an individual for which he is now being charged.

Prof. Bukenya wants court to stay the proceedings against him until this application is heard and disposed of. Deputy Chief Justice Alice E. Mpagi-Bahigeine will hear the application.

Prof. Bukenya was dropped from cabinet last month and replaced by former Speaker of Parliament Edward Ssekandi.

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