What you need to know:
- In a syndicate that orchestrates an alleged illegal transfer of power of attorney of family property to a stranger, money is lost through a bank loan scheme, and the property is fraudulently sold. But in the quest for justice, one of the family members ends up in jail, writes Ritah Kemigisa.
Uganda’s criminal system is tainted with inefficiencies, politics, and graft seeping across the hallowed temples of justice. Like a commodity, justice is often sold to the highest bidder across the penal stages.
But beyond the imagination of such a flawed system, the story of Sadam Sekajja, a young man who attempted to reclaim property belonging to his late father, opens a window into the dark arts of shylocking that such criminal cartels exploit and the protection they enjoy from highly-placed security personnel.
For Sekajja, the family’s troubles began in 2011 when his mother, Monica Mwebaze, was hoodwinked into getting a loan at the defunct Global Trust Bank Ltd.
On July 25, 2014, the Bank of Uganda revoked the banking licence of Global Trust Bank and closed down the institution with immediate effect.
DFCU Bank acquired some of the assets and liabilities, including customer deposits and loan accounts previously belonging to Global Trust Bank.
The loan facility was meant to complete the construction of the family commercial building in Mbarara District.
In 2011, Sekajja’s mother, Mwebaze travelled to Kampala to acquire the loan of Shs130m at Global Trust Bank Ltd head office on Jinja Road.
The certificate of title for the family property in Mbarara then valued at Shs1 billion was meant to be used as collateral.
By 2011, Sekajja’s father, Habib Bin Musa, was ailing and had been confined to a wheelchair. He died two years later.
Initially, the loan acquisition appeared to be a good business decision, which could be injected into the completion of the construction of the commercial building.
But beneath the surface, there was a sinister plot orchestrated by a cunning man, Abdul Kateete and officials at the defunct bank to deprive the family of its property. The bank officials later travelled to Mbarara to execute the loan transaction.
“My father was illiterate and he believed that he was signing loan documents for the property but unknowingly the documents included a power of attorney, which he signed with a thumbprint. He had suffered a stroke and was partially blind,” reveals Sekajja.
This cartel relied on Shufurah Transporters Ltd — a briefcase company owned by Kateete and his wife— as the conduit to execute this fraudulent deal.
To give it a legal basis, Shufurah Transporters Ltd purported to appoint Sekajja’s father, Habib Bin Musa, as a director of the company in 2011.
A power of attorney was purportedly executed by Habib as one of the directors at Shufurah Transporters Ltd in respect of the property as collateral for borrowing Shs130 million.
“But my father has never been a director in any company. My father had never engaged in any business apart from the building. According to the documents, my father gave powers of attorney to Kateete who was not known to my father. By the time he died, he had never seen Kateete and Kateete had also never seen my father,” reveals Sekajja.
If the building was worth Shs1 billion in valuation, why would the family acquire a loan through a power of attorney?
When the money was released, the funds were then transferred onto the account of Shufurah Transporters Ltd.
“When I went and met officials from Global Trust bank, they told me that my father had given powers of attorney to someone to acquire a loan of Shs130m. In fact, the reason for the loan was to purportedly acquire a van worth Shs143m for the transport company. So, the money was released, Shs100m was taken by Shufurah Transporters Ltd and Shs30m was given to my mother,” Sekajja told Daily Monitor.
When the company defaulted on payment, the property was later auctioned by the court and sold at Shs286 million.
Sekajja says during the sale, the building was grossly undervalued, which could have been part of a fraudulent scheme.
Earlier on before the bank foreclosed the property, the family had found a buyer who was willing to offer Shs800 million, an amount that could enable them to pay off the bank’s debt.
However, the branch manager of Global Trust Bank at Jinja Road allegedly connived with Kateete, who as a director of Shufurah Transporters Ltd, consented to the sale of the property in another shady transaction.
This property on the title, included a matrimonial home, which required spousal consent. However, this was not complied with.
Out of the funds received from the sale, the bank retained Shs164m as the total sum, including interest accrued on the loan. The remaining Shs116m was deposited on the account of Shufurah Transporters Ltd.
Sekajja on behalf of the family later filed a suit at Mbarara High Court against Kateete and the bank as defendants, accusing the parties of fraudulently acquiring their property.
He filed another suit in the Commercial Court against Kateete for fraudulently withholding the proceeds from the sale of the property.
The court in 2016 delivered a default judgment in favour of Sekajja after Kateete failed to appear and defend himself.
Kateete was ordered to pay Shs246 million, which included interest.
The then Execution and Bailiffs Division of the High Court, which has been phased out, ordered for the attachment of the account of Shufurah Transporters Ltd in Dfcu bank after a garnishee order was obtained. A garnishee order is a directive by court to allow creditors recover debt from a judgment debtor in the possession of a third party including a bank.
By the time the Dfcu account was attached, only Shs26m, which had not yet been withdrawn by Kateete, was recovered and handed to Sekajja’s family.
“Kateete had withdrawn Shs90m and Shs26m was frozen on the account. So, after getting a court judgment and a garnishee order, I had to serve it to the bank, but it took some time for the bank officials to verify it, it took them more than a week until I had to seek the CEOs intervention that is how I finally got the money,” said Sekajja.
A warrant of arrest against Kateete, who was the judgment debtor, was issued in 2017.
On February 18, 2018, Sekajja alongside a court bailiff and police officers raided Namugongo and arrested Kateete.
Subdued and handcuffed, Kateete was supposed to be committed to civil prison by the High court. But on their way to court, they were intercepted on the orders of the recently retired Assistant Inspector General of Police and the Director of Welfare in the Force, Andrew Sorowen.
“We organised and found Kateete at his garage in Namugongo, Sonde. We were with police officers plus the warrant. We successfully arrested him, but on our way to the Execution Division of the High Court, Kateete called AIGP Andrew Sorowen [Former director of welfare, logistics and sports in police] and he told him that he had been arrested. Sorowen directed his junior officers to release Kateete when we had reached Kyaliwajala,” said Ssekajja.
In a travesty of justice, Kateete whose arrest was based on a decision of court clothed with jurisdiction—changed places. He was freed and Sekajja was arrested.
Sekajja was carted off to Kireka Police Station and later transferred to Kiira Police Station in Wakiso District where on alleged instructions of Sorowen, he was detained for three weeks and later hauled before Kiira Magistrates Court. He was charged with threatening violence and offensive communication.
He was remanded to Luzira prison where he spent a year in incarceration and released a year later on February 25, 2019, as a result of insufficient evidence.
“I kept on coming to court until I successfully won the case,” said Sekajja.
During a phone interview, Kateete denied the allegations but later turned hostile.
“Why should you interview me, that boy [Sekajja] is a thief, he is poor, even if I arrest him, he cannot give me any coin. He lies that his mother is dead yet she is alive, why would his mother leave him in prison?” said Kateete before hurling insults at the reporter.
We have made several calls to Sorowen, which have gone unanswered. He also did not respond to WhatsApp and text messages.
In his pursuit for justice, Sekajja, has previously petitioned the Office of the President, the then Security Minister, Internal Affairs minister and police.
NTV has seen a July 23, 2020 letter, from the then Security minister, the late Gen Elly Tumwine, written to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Martin Okoth-Ochola, instructing him to probe allegations of obstructing justice.
In the letter, Gen Tumwine makes reference to his telephone conversation with the IGP in a June 5, 2019 letter.
The letter reads… “I understand that you directed PSU to investigate the allegations and the report was sent to the legal department of police, but up to now, no action has been taken.”
Gen Tumwine wrote, “In the meeting, AIGP Andrew Sorowen accused Sadam [Sekajja] of reporting him to his seniors. Sadam [Sekajja] further says AIGP Sorowen agreed that he directed for his arrest and the other friend of Sorowen, Abdul Kateete had shown him threatening messages. Sadam [Sekajja] says that after one year in prison the case was dismissed.”
Gen Tumwine’s letter further reads, “In the presence of the PA, AIGP Sorowen promised that he was going to talk to Mr Abdul Kateete to pay the money Sadam [Sekajja] is claiming. He further apologised to Sadam [Sekajja] for the time he spent in prison.”
Gen Tumwine ordered for the arrest of Kateete who was allegedly in possession of a pistol and handcuffs.
In 2020, under the supervision of the Director of Crime Intelligence, Assistant Inspector General of Police, Brig Christopher Ddamulira, Kateete was arrested and detained at the Special Investigation Unit, Kireka, and he was later freed after three days.
Sekajja also met the former deputy Inspector General of Police, Sabiiti Muzeeyi, who instructed the police Professional Standards Unit (PSU) to probe this incident. However, Sekajja is yet to receive the report of the findings.
NTV recently spoke to the deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj Gen Geoffrey Tumusiime Katsigazi, about the incident.
“I am aware of this case, Sekajja reported to me after I had reported to this office and raised issues against our director, Sorowen, that he had caused his arrest and spent some time in Luzira. I called Sekajja and Sorowen into this office and Sorowen denied. He denied that he caused any detention. Sorowen said he was a friend to Kateete, but did not in any way stop the arrest of anyone. I also called Kateete here and he counter-accused Sekajja and said Sekajja borrowed money from him to a tune of about Shs100m. I could not proceed any further; that’s why I referred their file to the director of CID in Kibuli. As we speak, the file is before the CID, but they have not got back to me,” said Gen Katsigazi.
Gen Katsigazi, who assumed office in January, replacing the late Lt Gen Paul Lokech, says there are no sacred cows and if Sorowen is found guilty, he will face the law.
“There is nothing like him untouchable, if CID finds that he is culpable, he can be arrested. He can be brought to book. Nobody is above the law, if anybody finds Mr Sorowen responsible, he will face the law. He is part of this country; he is still a citizen of Uganda and we still have a say on his life. He is a retired police officer; he has a name to protect. Because we are all law abiding, we can only enforce a lawful decision made by court,” added Gen Katsigazi.
Gen Katsigazi believes there are a few officers who are tainting the image of the Force.
“I do get concerned with some of the reports we get about our officers, but you need to be careful of whoever issues any statement [orders from above]. There are people trying to use the system to achieve their own ends. Some of those people are not proper, somebody should be able to tell you he got an order from the IGP or minister etc to arrest you,” said Maj Gen Katsigazi.
He added: “Our people need to know their own rights, somebody should ask questions, why am I being arrested and such questions will attract answers and identification of those arresting you.”
The Internal Affairs minister, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, said the public ought to speak out against errant officers.
“You see, if there were no wrongdoers, there would be no courts, no police, and no prisons. Out of 10 police officers, you might find one or two are misusing their offices, which is why we have a standards commission and other institutions that discipline errant officers. If you have a problem and you think you are not getting justice, come to us, write to us like Sekajja did and we shall handle the matter,” said Gen Otafiire.
On March 25, Otafiire wrote to Mr Okoth-Ochola, a letter, which read: “I am in receipt of a petition from Mr Sekajja Sadam of Seguku, Katale Wakiso District on the aforementioned subject matter against AIGP Andrew Sorowen. This serves to direct you to intervene in this matter and take corrective action,” it reads further.
“That matter of Sekajja and Sorowen is on my desk, we are following it. I have forwarded it to the police authorities. Even when you [authorities] are gone, we shall bring you to book to account. Sekajja will get the justice that he needs even if Sorowen is retired. If Sorowen did it in the course of his duty, then the Ugandan government is liable, if Sorowen did it as a person, he will answer, even in retirement you still answer,” said Gen Otafiire said in an interview with Daily Monitor.
Though justice should be manifestly delivered, it remains elusive nearly a decade after a criminal cartel crafted this plan to steal Sekajja’s family of their property and four years after the complainant was imprisoned on fabricated charges.
The Constitution under Article 23 provides for an elaborate process in which an arrest should be made; to wit, introducing yourself as an arresting officer, the reason for the arrest in the language one understands, ensuring access to a lawyer, next of kin and medical treatment among others. This is further strengthened by a couple of other laws. Many cases have collapsed simply because there were many errors made at arrest and processing of suspects.