Former permanent secretary in the Local Government ministry, John Muhanguzi Kashaka, and his co-accused, former principal accountant Henry Bamutura, have lost their appeal before the Supreme Court. This decision means Kashaka will serve the remainder of his 10 year prison sentence in Luzira prison for his involvement in the UGX 4.2 billion bicycle procurement scandal.
The ruling was made by five Supreme Court justices, led by Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo, who upheld the earlier decision of the Court of Appeal that had also affirmed the conviction and sentencing of Kashaka and Bamutura.
The justices emphasized that Kashaka and Bamutura were jointly responsible for the scandal and could not be separated in terms of culpability, stating, “We are persuaded by the evidence and the law that the 1st appellant (Kashaka) and the 2nd appellant (Bamutura) were like peas in one pod.” They also pointed out that without their joint authorization of payments as co-signatories to the ministry of local government’s accounts, the payments for the bicycles could not have been made.
The Supreme Court justices also criticized the Court of Appeal for wrongly upholding the conviction of Sam Emorut Erongot, the former assistant commissioner policy and planning. As a result, they set aside his conviction and the compensation award he was ordered to pay, leading to his release.
The Supreme Court further clarified that Emorut’s Evaluation Committee did not have the authority to award a contract, and, therefore, he was wrongly convicted.
The Supreme Court justices involved in the case were Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Prof Lillian Tibatemwa, Percy Night Tuhaise, Mike Chibita, and Faith Mwondha.
Kashaka had been convicted in 2014 by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire of the Anti-Corruption Court for his involvement in the mishandled procurement of 70,000 bicycles intended for village LC1 chairpersons before the 2011 Presidential elections. He was initially sentenced to 10 years in prison, but he had been released on bail during the course of serving his sentence.
In the case, Kashaka and Bamutura were charged with abusing their offices by signing a final contract with the bicycle supply firm Amman Industrial Tools and Equipment Ltd (Aitel) for the delivery of 70,000 bicycles without proper authorization. Approximately UGX 4.6 billion was paid to the supply firm, but no bicycles were ever delivered.