Mbabazi petition costs taxpayers Shs10 billion

Tuesday April 5 2016

Lawyers from the Attorney General’s office and

Lawyers from the Attorney General’s office and EC set for hearing of the recently concluded presidential polls petition. PHOTO BY ERIC DOMINIC BUKENYA  

By Yasiin Mugerwa

Kampala.

At least Shs10b worth of taxpayers’ money was spent on the just concluded election petition in which former presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi sought to nullify Mr Museveni’s victory.

Details from the Finance ministry, Electoral Commission (EC), Judiciary and Justice ministry show the money was apparently used to facilitate the Supreme Court, Attorney General (AG) office and payment for private lawyers.
According to the Finance ministry the Justice ministry requested for a supplementary of Shs14.4b of which Shs2.7b was for the election petition, EC officials had also presented a request of Shs3.1b as opposed to Shs1b previously reported as the budget for external lawyers.

Another Shs5b was requested by the Judiciary to facilitate election tribunals, operations and case backlog.
The AG, who is the chief government legal adviser, was added onto Mr Mbabazi’s petition as the third respondent. This was in regard to alleged electoral irregularities committed by civil servants such as police chief Kale Kayihura, KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi and UNRA boss Allen Kagina.

Asked whether the Finance ministry conducted due diligence on the requests for additional funding for the election petition, Mr Jim Mugunga, the ministry spokesperson, said: “The AG requested for funds to manage the presidential election petition. The supplementary was allowed and is before Parliament for consideration.”
“EC wanted supplementary funds [Shs47b] to clear outstanding payments for the voter verification devices and another Shs3.1b for the presidential elections petition but this has not been considered. We [Finance ministry] believe EC has enough funds to meet these costs,” he said.

EC, which was the second respondent in the dismissed petition, hired six external lawyers to beef up its legal team in which the commission was accused of forging results. However, the petition was dismissed for lack of evidence.
The lawyers who represented EC included Mr Enos Tumusiime, Mr McDusman Kabega, Mr Tom Magezi, Mr Alfred Okello Oryem, Enoch Barata and Elison Karuhanga.
EC spokesperson, Mr Jotham Taremwa requested for more time to dig up the details of the supplementary request.
Mr Ibrahim Ssemuju Nganda, the FDC spokesperson and Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, among others at the weekend, called the expenditure ‘unacceptable’.
“...this is normal. Spending Shs10b on a petition is in his [Mr Museveni] line. They have shared our country,” Mr Ssemuju said.
However, Presidency minister Frank Tumwebaze, said it is Mr Ssemuju and other members who sit in Parliament to approve budgets and not the President.
“The President is not the accounting officer of those agencies,” he said, adding: “People like Mr Ssemuju are only obsessed with the name of the President.”

Judiciary

Different figures: According to Judiciary deputy spokesperson Solomon Muyita, they only requested for Shs2.8b and not Shs5b to cater for the presidential, parliamentary and local government election petitions.

The numbers

Shs2.7b
The amount of money that was requested by the Justice ministry for the election petition.

Shs3.1b
The amount of money that was requested by the Electoral Commission.

Shs5b
The amount of money that was requested by the Justice Ministry to facilitate election tribunals, operations and case backlog.

ymugerwa@ug.nationmedia.com

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