Justice Kavuma Halts Probe Into Shs6bn Oil Cash Bonanza
By Serestino Tusingwire
The controversial Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma on Monday evening shocked the nation when he issued an interim order “restraining parliament, any person or authority from investigating, questioning or inquiring into” the Shs6bn presidential handshake saga.
In June 2015, a protracted legal battle over capital gains tax between URA& Tullow oil resulted into a settlement of Sh824Bn and about Shs6bn was doled out to senior government officials as a reward for their role in facilitating the successful settlement.
This had prompted MPs and Civil Society Organisations to start probing the saga saying it was illegally done thus the beneficiaries would have to vomit back the money they chewed.
However, in his order, Justice Kavuma stayed “all proceedings of whatever nature, if any, which may be pending before any forum whatsoever “until the main application No.06 of 2017 has been heard and determined.”
Kavuma’s order followed Eric Sabiiti’s petition to block the probe saying the planned investigation by parliament interferes with executive powers. Sabiiti is a legal officer who works with the Electoral Commission.
In his petition, Sabiiti describes how the officials from ministries of Justice, Energy and Finance alongside the Uganda Revenue Authority played a diligent role that earned them the presidential hand shake.
According to Sabiiti, following a protracted litigation, the technical winning team led by the then Attorney General, Peter Nyombi met with Museveni on May 17, 2015 who in-turn directed the commissioner general of URA to propose a reward for the team for the commendable work they did.
He adds that after obtaining all the necessary approvals to withdraw the money from the consolidated fund, the commissioner general paid out Shs6bn to the selected individuals.
Sabiiti says that he believes the above actions and sharp criticisms by the public and MPs is inconsistent with the constitution and should be quashed by court.
It’s from this point therefore that Justice Kavuma ordered the registrar of the court to ensure pretrial steps are taken in good time and fix the hearing of the main petition without delay.
List of Beneficiaries and Amount in Millions
Some of the beneficiaries include Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) commissioner general Doris Akol – Shs242, Uganda National Roads Authority boss Allen Kagina – Shs242, Kampala Capital City Authority boss Jennifer Musisi – Shs121, Finance ministry Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi – Shs108 (and his predecessor Chris Kassami – Shs393), former attorney generals Peter Nyombi – Shs226 and Fred Ruhindi – Shs93, as well as the solicitor general among others.