Court in Kampala has ordered former works minister, Abraham Byandala and his co-accused persons to defend themselves in a case in which government lost Shs24.7 billion in the botched Mukono-Katosi road project.
Justice Lawrence Gidudu of the Anti- Corruption Court in Kololo on Monday ruled that prosecution had established a prima facie case against Mr Byandala, businessman Apolo Senkeeto alias Mark Kalyesubula who was the country representative of Eutaw Construction Company, former UNRA acting executive director Eng Berunado Ssebbugga Kimeze, Mr Joe Ssemugooma (former director of finance and administration), Mr Wilberforce Senjako (former regional accountant) and Mr Isaac Mugote (former staff of Housing Finance Bank).
However, court explained that prosecution had not proved the case beyond reasonable doubt.
Eutaw Construction Company is accused of fleecing UNRA Shs24.7 billion in the collapsed Katosi road contract.
The suspects who deny any wrong doing have since asked the court to dismiss the charges arguing that prosecution evidence was marred by controversies and inconsistences that cannot warrant them to be put on defence.
Prosecution states that Mr Byandala abused his office while holding the Works ministry, when in a November 14, 2013 letter he directed the immediate signing of the contract between UNRA and Eutaw yet the company lacked capacity to carry out the road works.
The Inspector general of government, who is prosecuting the case, also states that Byandala in another August 27, 2014 letter further abused his office by ordering the continuation of the works on the Katosi road by Chongqing International Construction Company. The IGG contends that this act also amounted to disobeyed lawful orders by Byandala.
The IGG alleges that Mr 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.
Mr Kimeze is separately and jointly charged with Mr 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.