The Anti-corruption court has on Wednesday acquitted former Works minister Eng. Abraham Byandala of causing financial loss of Shs24700 billion in the bungled Mukono-Katosi Road contract with other two counts to include abuse of office and disobeying lawful orders
The judgment was delivered by Justice Lawrence Gidudu of the Anti-Corruption Court at Kololo, Kampala
Justice Gidudu said Eng. Byandala is not guilty of any offense since there was no evidence to incriminate him.
He said the charges are not sustainable.
Former Uganda National Roads Authority acting executive director, Eng. Berunado Sebugga Kimeze was also acquitted with Legal Counsel Marvin Baryaruha on charges of causing financial loss to the roads authority in the controversial procurement of an American firm and payment of Shs24 billion that was meant to up-grade Mukono-Katosi road.
The judge said the former works minister had grounds for directing that the contract be signed given the long wait of the said road by area residents, availability of funds, clearance by the Solicitor General and legal advice that due diligence can be taken at any stage of the contract, and therefore could not be held criminally liable.
Court also says there’s is no evidence on record to establish that Byandala was aware of that the securities upon which payment of the 24.7 billion shillings was based were forged and fake.
However, Justice Giddudu has found the former Director of Finance at UNRA Mr. Joe Ssemugooma guilty of abuse of office by approving payment of Shs24.7 billion to EUTAW before verifying securities.
Ssemugooma awaits sentencing.
Eng. Byandala was jointly charged with businessman Apolo Senkeeto alias Mark Kalyesubula who was the country representative of Eutaw Construction Company, which is accused of fleecing Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) of Shs24.7 billion in the collapsed Katosi road contract.
Other suspects include former Acting Executive Director of the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) Eng Berunado Ssebugga Kimeze the former UNRA director of finance and administration, Joe Ssemugooma, Wilberforce Senjako (former regional accountant) and Isaac Mugote (former staff of Housing Finance Bank).
The prosecution had submitted that Eng Byandala abused his office while holding the Works ministry by a November 14, 2013 letter, when he directed the immediate signing of the contract between UNRA and Eutaw yet the company lacked the capacity to carry out the roadworks.
The IGG also accused the ex-minister who was dropped from holding the Works docket in March 2015, for having, in an August 27, 2014 letter, abused his office by ordering for the continuation of the works on the Mukono-Katosi road by Chongqing International Construction Corporation (CICO).
The IGG also said that Eng. Kimeze abused his office when he signed a contract with Eutaw without establishing that there was a valid performance guarantee and issued a payment guarantee which allowed the payment of over Shs24 billion to the detriment of UNRA’s interests.
Eng Kimeze was separately and jointly charged with Semugooma over causing financial loss to the government by approving payment of the Shs24 billion to Eutaw despite glaring defects in the due-diligence report.
Justice Giddudu is still delivering his judgment.