Parliament has protested the awarding of 12.9 billion shillings by the Constitutional Court to Severino Twinobusingye, a lawyer who sued government seeking to block investigations into oil bribery allegations.
Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo this afternoon described the move by the Court as vey unprecedented in the country’s history.
The case arose in October 2011 when Twinobusingye sued the Attorney General seeking to block Parliament’s investigations into bribery allegations involving Tullow Oil and three cabinet ministers. The three included Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and his internal affairs counterpart, Hilary Onek. The investigations were headed by Bungokho South MP Michael Werikhe Kafabusa, the chairperson of the Adhoc Committee on Oil.
The three government officials were accused of allegedly receiving bribes from foreign oil exploration companies as kickbacks. Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga was the whistle blower of this saga after he tabled documents to that effect before the 9th Parliament during the October 2011 Special Oil Debate.
Twinobusingye wanted court to dismiss the parliamentary resolutions from the Special Oil Debate that led to the formation of an ad hoc committee to investigate claims of corruption against Mbabazi, Kutesa Onek.
Among the resolutions, MPs wanted the officials mentioned in the bribery allegations to resign their cabinet posts to pave way for investigations.
Twinobusingye challenged the decision and also wanted court to order for him to be paid for the costs incurred in the case.
In March last year, 5 judges of the Constitutional Court led by the Deputy Chief Justice Alice Mpagi Behigeine awarded Twinobusingye 2/3 of the total costs after they concurred with him that MPs had no powers to order the ministers resign from their cabinet posts as it’s a preserve of the cabinet itself. In July, the Constitutional Court threw out the Parliamentary Commission’s intended appeal to the Supreme Court challenging the January 2012 ruling that blocked it from being party to the oil sector probe case.
Last week, court ordered government to pay 12.9 billion shillings in costs to Twinobusingye.
Ssekikubo today lamented that the matter took just two hours to be concluded adding that this was a broad day fleecing of the country. Kalungu West MP Ssewungu Gonzanga wondered why the Judicialry could order payment of such a colossal sum of money which is almost equal to their annual budget.
Ssekikubo questioned what public interest Twinobusingye was protecting in the matter.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga then asked the deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhindi to explain. Ruhindi stated that he first came across the astronomical and unjustified figure in the media and immediately called the officer in charge of the matter.
He adds that he was shocked that even the adjudication coming to 12.9 billion was reached at in the absence of the attorney generals’ office describing it as a ridiculous decision. Ruhindi further stated that nowhere in Uganda, East Africa and Africa has he ever heard of such abnormal costs being awarded to that magnitude.
Parliamentary Commissioner Chris Baryomunsi who was part of the case said they were not satisfied with the ruling and made attempts for an appeal but the same judicial system frustrated the appeal. However, Speaker Kadaga clarified that they were given a date to go to court and when the Parliament lawyers got there, the whole court was absent.