Ex-Uganda Airlines boss, Cornwell Muleya ordered to deposit passports in court, granted Shs1.5m bail

Former Uganda Airlines chief executive officers Mr Cornwell Muleya in the dock at Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court where he appeared on June 22, 2022 to answer charges of disobeying the IGG’s orders. PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA


What you need to know:

  • Mr Muleya was sent on forced leave on April 29, 2021 amid accusations of—among others—financial mismanagement, unethical conduct in the recruitment of personnel, failure to supervise staff, and curb corruption at the national carrier.

Former Uganda Airlines chief executive officer, Mr Cornwell Muleya who was arrested Tuesday for allegedly disobeying the Inspectorate of Government (IG) orders has been produced in court and charged formally.

Mr Muleya was on Wednesday arraigned before Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court after spending a night in custody and charged with disobedience of IGG's orders contrary to section 35 (a) of the Inspectorate of Government Act, 2002.

According to prosecution, Mr Muleya between May and June 2022 willfully and without reasonable justification or excuse, refused to comply with an order of the Inspectorate of Government dated May 23, 2022 requiring his attendance to give evidence and produce documents to the Inspectorate of Government, regarding mismanagement of public funds, procurements and recruitment of staff at the Uganda Airlines.

Mr Muleya, however, denied the charges and asked to be released on bail arguing that he is a law abiding citizen and ready to report to court whenever required.

He also told the presiding court magistrate, Asuman Muhumuza, that he had been summoned by the IGG as a witness in the ongoing investigations into the mismanagement of the national carrier and not as a suspect.

Mr Muhumuza asked Muleya to deposit his old and new passports in court and also pay Shs1.5 million cash for his bail. Each of his four sureties was bonded Shs50 million, not cash.

Mr Muleya was sent on forced leave on April 29, 2021 amid accusations of—among others—financial mismanagement, unethical conduct in the recruitment of personnel, failure to supervise staff, and curb corruption at the national carrier.

He was also accused of delaying the operation of the Airbus planes, delaying the implementation of the ground handling and self-handling programmes as well as presiding over abuse of the procurement system.

He was later suspended on May 21, 2021 along with other five top managers. Among these were the human resource manager, Mr Joseph Sebbowa, and the director of safety, Mr Bruno Oringi.

Mr Muleya’s contract was consequently terminated on February 15.

The deputy IGG, Patricia Achan Okiria, yesterday told this publication that Mr Muleya’s actions had forced the ombudsman to invoke its powers under the IGG Act. The provision empowers the inspectorate to issue a warrant of arrest to apprehend any person to whom summons have been served but is a no-show.

He is also set to appear before the Anti-Corruption Court to answer another charge related to the IGG’s investigation into alleged mismanagement and abuse of office at the airline.

“He did not carry out his functions and duties well. Next week, we are likely to be in the Anti-Corruption Court, so I don’t want to delve into those matters now,” she added.

It will be a perfect case of hunter turned hunted if Mr Muleya is arraigned before the anti-corruption court. The Zambian was the first to pen a dossier in which he made a case for an investigation into the operations at the airline.

In a January 27, 2021 report sent to President Museveni, Mr Muleya accused some members of the board of directors at the time of pushing “for the promotion of self-interest” and in other cases colluding with some managers to make a quick buck.

“In procurement specifically, management has witnessed cases where board members have met with some members of the management team with a view to find ways of invoice loading and other money-making schemes…This attempted collusion... has tended to divide the management team and has brought inefficiency...” he wrote.

Mr Muleya further pointed out that procurement managers have been colluding with people in government to steal from the airline. He also accused the board of interference with the recruitment of personnel.

“Internally, our areas of concern on the recruitment angle are two-fold—the involvement of the Board at all levels of recruitment, which has tended to make the recruitment processes slow and laborious to meet the needs of a commercial entity like an airline,” Mr Muleya wrote.

Pending case

Mr Muleya’s arrest, however, comes at a time when a suit he filed with the Industrial Court seeking compensation to the tune of Shs3.3b as payment of telephone and toll expenses, salary arrears, gratuity, untaken leave, reimbursement for fuel, repatriation allowances, and general special damages is yet to be heard.

In the same suit, he demands immediate reinstatement to office as chief executive of the airline, an unconditional apology for the material inconvenience and damage to his reputation.

Dr Okiria says Mr Muleya’s current predicament is not borne out of a witch hunt.

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