How Basajjabalaba was finally cornered

Saturday January 19 2013

By Dear Jeanne

On Tuesday, the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate (CIID) detectives arrested businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba at 6:30pm at Entebbe International Airport as he attempted to leave the country.

The breakthrough came after four nights of a cat-and-mouse chase and several police summonses.

On January, 2, the CIID Director, Ms Grace Akullo, wrote a letter to Mr Basajjabalaba, asking him to report the next day on grounds that the Director of Public Prosecution had sanctioned his file and he was expected in court.

The next day, however, his lawyer, Mr Geoffrey Nangumya, his brother, Mr Nasser Basajjabalaba, and a friend, Mr Michael Mawanda, the MP Igara East, Bushenyi District, appeared in his place, informing the director of CIID that he was out of the country.

The lawyer was asked to write a formal letter, indicating that his client would not snub the summons once he was in the country.
The letter was never delivered.

A week later, Mr Nangumya appeared at the CIID to explain that his client was not yet back, but Ms Akullo refused to give him audience.
It was that week that intelligence at CIID found out that Mr Basajjabalaba was in the country and had never been out and thus began 24-hour surveillance on him.

However, in a surprise move, the businessman responded to summons from a private prosecutor, initiated by Mr Allan Mulindwa and on January 15, was charged with fraud in connection with alleged forgery of a consent document which led to payment of Shs142 billion by the government.

Mr Basajjabalaba was jointly charged with Mr Muzamiru Basajjabalaba, at Buganda Road Court.

They were charged with three cases of conspiracy to defeat tax laws, forgery of a court document and uttering a false document.

Release
However, the Chief Magistrate, Ms Eleanor Khainza, ordered the release of the accused persons after paying Shs30 million each and presenting sureties.

She also extended the case to February 12 for mention.
Then through his lawyers, Kavuma Kabenge and Co. Advocate, Mr Basajjabalaba wrote to the chief magistrate requesting to use his already deposited passport for travel to Kenya.

According to the letter, which the Saturday Monitor has seen, he claimed he was required to attend a meeting with the Prime Minister of Kenya the next day over his university and would return the passport 10 days later.

Mr Basajjabalaba is the proprietor of Kampala International University, which has a branch in Kenya.

The businessman then got into a private ambulance, that was parked a few metres from Buganda Road Court and was driven to Entebbe Town, where he got into his car and headed for the airport.

According to sources, he was taken by surprise when a group of casually dressed detectives surrounded him and informed him of his arrest.
“The President [Museveni] has agreed that you be arrested,” a sources quoted one of the spies as saying.

Mr Basajjabalaba was then driven in a blue saloon car to Special Investigations Unit in Kireka, where he was detained and his phone confiscated.

A year of chase
The wild chase between police and Mr Basajjabalaba arose from sanctioning of a case file bearing charges of forging a consent judgment, evading taxes and uttering false document.

The forgery case is part of but separate from the irregular compensation case in which senior government officials including the Governor Bank of Uganda, Mr Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, former Attorney General Khiddu Makubuya and former Minister of Finance Syda Bbumba are mentioned.

The Shs142b compensation by the government arose from the reversing of the then Kampala City Council decision to sell Nakasero, Shauriyako, and St. Balikuddembe (Owino) markets, and the Constitution Square to Mr Basajjabalaba.

The compensation process was marred with irregularities and led to the resignations of former Attorney General Prof. Makubuya and Ms Bbumba.

An audit by the Office of the Auditor General found no basis for the compensation, noting that the claims were heavily inflated in any case, and that, in reality, it was the businessman who owed government the more than Shs900m in unpaid taxes and fees.

The DPP has given up to the end of this month to give a decision on the file.

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