Lawyer Kiconco handed over to police over Shs39b

Kampala lawyer Patrick Kiconco Katabazi appears before Cosase at Parliament on August 15, 2023. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Parliament says the lawyer's submission on the money contradicted presentations by complainants. 

Lawmakers on the Parliament Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (Cosase) Tuesday afternoon handed over Kampala lawyer Patrick Kiconco Katabazi to the Parliament police unit to record statements over the alleged misappropriation of Shs39billion originally meant to settle claims of tea growers.

This was after he failed to appear before the same committee on Thursday last week to respond to claims that his law firm, Pathways Advocates had received Shs39billion from the National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads) to clear arrears owed to the farmers.

Even when he appeared before the committee on Tuesday, legislators indicated that they were finding difficulty in extracting responses to the said query, which compelled the Vice Chairperson of the committee, Lucy Akello, to hand Kiconco to police.

Earlier, Members of Parliament (MPs) heard from a section of tea farmers who told the committee that they did not receive their full payments.

“I will use the powers that we have as a committee compelling the production of the documents. For that matter, I’m going to ask Katabazi, together with all the witnesses who came here, to go to the CID to make statements because we are getting information that should interest us as a committee,” Akello noted.

She immediately added that “we are expecting a report from CID to form our recommendation and way forward.”

The money in question came under the spotlight last week when Cosase started interrogating queries contained in the Auditor General Report that Naads spent Shs7 billion without a budget in Financial Year 2021/2022 .

In the lead up to his arrest, Kiconco insisted that his law firm had cleared said arrears.

“The plaintiffs and the beneficiaries they represent have received money and are appreciative of our services and support. From these payments, we have been able to resolve problems relating to simple mistakes in computing, recording of account numbers and to date, we do not have any complaints from the plaintiffs regarding the exercise so far,” he said.

Since his submission was contradicting submissions made by the complainants, the committee ruled that criminal investigators take over the matter and thereafter report back to Parliament for further action.