Kampala. A senior police officer is on the spot for allegedly defying court order that has caused frustration of a multimillion gold investment by Turkish businessman in Busia District.
The High Court in Mbale District ruled that the commandant of mineral protection police, Ms Jessica Kaigomba, acted in contempt of court order when she impounded and seized trucks carrying golden dust belonging to businessman Mustafa Semih Gecgil.
Ms Kaigomba is jointly accused with the officer-in-charge of mineral protection police in Busia District, Mr Moses Musinguzi.
Others accused are land owners Ali Hussein Odima, Umaru Opachet and Monday Odima.
“I hereby order the release of the applicant’s golden dust and the stopping of any further contempt of court within one week, failing of which the applicant may set the matter down upon notice as matter of urgency upon the respondents to show cause why further restrictions and sanctions are not issued for contempt found against them,” Ms Lillian Mwandha, the Mbale Court deputy registrar, said.
The court has also ordered the police officers and land owners to pay Shs10 million each to Mr Gecgil as well as legal costs incurred.
The order followed an application in which Ms Kaigomba is accused of interfering with the court process to block two orders.
Documents indicate that on February 13, the court issued an interim order restraining the land owners and their agents from interfering with, threatening or in any way obstructing Mr Gecgil’s possession, use of surface rights and mining activities on land at Tiira Village, Sikuda Sub-county in Busia.
Through his lawyers, Mr Gecgil sued the trio for breach of a 2015 surface rights contract which the two parties entered for 25 years to allow the investor carry out farming and mining activities.
Court documents indicate that upon being served with the court order, the trio ran to Ms Kaigomba, who in turn directed her juniors to block the investor from accessing the site and she opened criminal charges against Mr Gecgil.
In a February 15 letter to Ms Kaigomba, the police director of legal services, Mr Erasmus Twaruhukwa, advised that the facts surrounding the matter are civil in nature, adding that criminal liability cannot be imputed since the contention is subject to adjudication in the High Court.
“For purposes of clarity and transparency, the investigations in the matter shall proceed and on completion, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions shall advise on the way forward. This case must be investigated exceptionally professional, not only to restore and boost investor but also show that the laws of the country must be complied with, which ever shall be applicable,” Mr Twaruhuka advised.
When contacted, Ms Kaigomba declined to comment on the matter referring this reporter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
The police spokesperson, Mr Fred Enanga, in a telephone interview, said a complaint related to the case has been forwarded to the IGP.
“We shall find out if the order was served to the officer but if the matter is before the IGP, action will be taken,” he said.
When contacted, Mr Alex Luganda, one of the lawyers representing Mr Gecgil, confirmed the development describing the police’s action as a surprise move to frustrate investment and job creation.
“This is an investor who pays taxes and employs more than 100 local people. This is on top of the huge sums of money already spent to acquire the land and equipment worth more than $4m,” Mr Luganda said.