KAMPALA. Three people who were convicted of causing a financial loss of Shs24.7 billion in the bungled Mukono-Katosi road contract have been sentenced to 10 years in Luzira Prison.
Kololo based Anti-Corruption Court on Thursday sentenced businessman Apollo Senkeeto also known as Mark Kalyesubula to ten years imprisonment for theft, three years imprisonment for each of the six charges of uttering false documents and five years for obtaining execution of a security by false pretence.
Senkeeto was the country representative of Eutaw Construction Company, which is accused of fleecing Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) in the Katosi contract fiasco.
The Court also sentenced former UNRA director of finance and administration Joe Semugooma to five years for abuse of office and also imprisoned him jointly with his former junior, Wilberforce Senjako to another five years for corruption.
Justice Lawrence Gidudu said that all the sentences shall run concurrently for both Senkeeto and Ssemugooma.
The judge described Senkeeto as the main architect of the scam together with his American friends saying that his manipulations led to loss of jobs by many people in UNRA and a new contractor was engaged to take over the job at approximately Shs250 billion.
Justice Gidudu reasoned that it would send a wrong signal that members of the private sector can manipulate government systems and lead to loss of funds and jobs and walk away with a mere part on the back.
“It would be a travesty of justice for this court to merely part the convicts on the back by saying just pay a fine and do not do it again,” held Justice Gidudu arguing that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors.
While passing the sentence, Justice Gidudu said that he was not persuaded that a non-custodial sentence would serve the ends of justice.
The judge explained that the three persons were convicted is based on their prominent roles they played in causing money to move from UNRA to an account where Senkeeto had unfettered control.
“I have also considered that if Ssemugooma and Senjako had nipped this scam in the bud, the bid for Eutaw Construction Company would have collapsed at the tendering stage. In other words, Eutaw Construction Company would have been disqualified from participating in the bidding process,” ruled the Judge accusing the two of siding with Senkeeto and advising him to replace the forged securities and backdating them to ensure that the scheme succeeds.
“It is my considered view that if this court having gone through the evidence and established the criminal liability of the convicts, given their critical roles as gate keepers, that would have locked out bogus bids such as the one in this case by properly verifying the securities, I am inclined to consider a custodial sentence as the most appropriate,” he ruled.
The three convicted persons were part of the seven persons who were indicted on 23 charges in connection with the bungled Mukono-Katosi road contract.
The court acquitted former works minister, Eng Abraham Byandala, former UNRA Acting Executive Director Eng Berunado Sebugga Kimeze, Mr Marvin Baryaruha (former legal counsel) and former Housing Finance employee Isaac Mugote.
Justice Gidudu faulted the prosecution led by the Inspectorate of Government for failing to present evidence in the case of causing financial loss.
The judge declined to make an order for compensation to UNRA citing lack of road engineering audit to quantify the loss.