'Prosecute fat cats': Lawyers demand timelines from DPP in Basajja fraud case

Counsel Gawaya Tegule (left) joins Legal Brains Trust (LBT) CEO, Cousel Isaac Ssemakadde (2nd left) and other colleagues during a December 15, 2022 press conference in which the asked the DPP to provde timelines for prosecuting city businessman Hassan Basajjabaaba's Shs142b case. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

What you need to know:

  • The lawyers have tasked the DPP to write timelines, latest by December 20, for prosecution of the Basajjabalaba brothers to take effect.

Lawyers of the Legal Brains Trust (LBT) have issued a fresh ultimatum to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Jane Frances Abodo to provide timelines in which to commence and complete investigations into the Hassan Basajjabalaba and Muzamir Basajjabalaba city markets compensation case.

This comes two days after LBT scored on forcing the DPP to reinstate charges of forging a court document, uttering a fake document and an attempt to defeat tax laws by the Basajjabalaba brothers.

The two brothers allegedly forged a court order that they tendered to different government departments to allow for a fraudulent compensation of Shs142 billion in lieu of the cancellation of contracts that defunct KCC had awarded to Basajjabala’s five companies to manage city markets and the constitutional square.

According to official correspondences between the Attorney general, the Uganda Revenue Authority(URA), the High Court and Solicitor general, it was proved that Basajjabalaba on October 6, 2010 forged a court order from a non-existent case.

He used the same to claim payments to his companies Haba Group, Sheila Investments, First Merchant, Ltd, Victoria International Trading Co and Yudaya International Ltd- against the attorney General.

In total, he received Shs142billion that was distributed as Shs63billion for losses incurred in Nakasero market, Shs70billion for losses at the Constitutional square and Shs2billion for the lost interests in St Balikuddembe Market. The consent also gave a further amount of Shs5billion but without purpose against it.

Basajjabalaba and his brother were prosecuted and committed for trial in the High Court on three counts of forgery of a judicial document, uttering a false document and conspiracy to evade tax law.

LBT challenged the decision and the DPP announced she had reinstituted an investigations team to enable fresh investigations. Her decision to drop the charges was against among other reasons- the death of witnesses and changing interests after changing times.

‘Prosecute the fat cats’

In a press conference on December 15, Kampala City lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde flanked by his colleague Gawaya Tegule tasked the DPP to write timelines, latest by December 20, for prosecution of the Basajjabalaba brothers to take effect.

“Should we not hear from you by the said date, we will be compelled to act against you personally for abuse of office and wilful failure to comply with the lawful directives of the President and orders of the superior courts,” LBT said in a letter to Abodo with copies to the Head Judge, Anti-Corruption Court, the Inspector General of Government, the Registrar, Anti-Corruption Court, the Chief Magistrate and the Anti-Corruption Court.

Besides, Mr Tegule also launched a campaign dubbed “Prosecute the fat cats” asking the public to finance it through mobile money by a minimum of Shs10, 000. 

“Reject financial interaction with the corrupt. We lose trillions to the cheap earners. But we shall use the law to take them on and we request for public support because government won’t fund us to fight them,” Tegule said.

Meantime, Mr Ssemakadde noted that the conduct of the DPP in the Basajjabala case is “questionable and full of lies.”

“The DPP’s explanation on Monday that withdrawing the case from court for investigations to be concluded before prosecution was awful. The DPP must be accountable and challenged in case of flouting the procedures,” he emphasized in Kampala. 

The LBT now opines that “pretext of a fresh investigation into the Basajjabalaba corruption case is another deliberate, blatant and dishonest misuse of the DPP’s powers.

“… yet on March 6, 2013, the DPP at the time had informed the chief magistrate at the Anti-Corruption Court that investigations had been completed, enabling committal for trial before Justice Catherine Bamugemereire who then headed the Anti-Corruption Court,” the organization remarked.