By our reporter
With a tainted image, and years and money lost battling to clear their names in the Anti Corruption Court, finally Ex Works Minister Eng. Abraham Byandala, Eutaw’s Apolo Senkeeto and ex UNRA bosses have been set free.
The case however leaves the office of the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) in deeper troubles as she badly wanted to land a conviction despite having no solid grounds to lock up these officials.
The case which has dragged on for years, finally was ruled with the Irene Mulyagonja’s led IGG office failing to prove to court that Engineer Byandala, Eutaw boss Apolo Senkeeto and ex UNRA bosses siphoned shs24 billion in Katosi Road project, warranting their conviction or refund.
However, the time the cases was ruled, the government might be forced to pay for the losses companies such as Eutaw incurred especially on its equipment which was confiscated and rot away, as well as the image of Byandala and UNRA bosses.
The anti-corruption court sitting in Kololo suburb in Kampala city on Wednesday, cleared the right of abuse of office that led to financial loss to government in the Mukono Kyetume-Katosi-Nyenga road. The road contract was taken away from Eutaw and was given to SBI.
Court also said there was no evidence that Byandala connived with businessman Apolo Senkeeto alias Mark Kalyesubula a representative of Eutaw Construction Company, ex UNRA acting executive director Eng Berunado Ssebbugga Kimeze, Joe Ssemugooma (former director of finance and administration), Isaac Mugote(former staff at Housing Finance bank) and Wilberforce Senjako (former regional accountant for UNRA).
“There was nothing arbitrary in writing the letter that gave a go ahead for signing the contract between UNRA and Euraw,” Justice Lawrence Gidudu said in the Wednesday ruling which risks putting the IGG in further problems.
“It has not been established that he was aware or had reason to believe that the bond securities provided were fake.”
The judge said that because by then UNRA lacked a board of directors, Byandala as the line minister was directly charged with supervision of the body.
“It was a normal internal communication and there is no reason for holding Byandala culpable of abuse of office.”
In 2009, Eutaw, was introduced to Uganda by the Ugandan Embassy in America through its ambassador. Eutaw had come to Uganda on a fact finding mission which led them to bidding and winning the construction contract for the Mukono-Kyetume-Nyenda-Katosi Road.
In August 2013, after a 4-year delay, Eutaw was asked if they were still interested in the contract, according to our sources. They expressed interest and eventually signed the contract in November 2013.
Within months after signing, completing mobilization, beginning works, the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) Ms. Irene Mulyagonja moved to abruptly stop the works without proper contractual or legal due process. In spite of being warned by the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) executives that there was nothing wrong with the Eutaw contract, this website understands that Ms. Mulyagonja proceeded to cause the firing of the entire UNRA executive.
Thereafter, the IGG directed the Uganda Police Force to seize all the construction equipment and close the Eutaw site. SBI/RCC took over the Eutaw contract for double the contract price. The Eutaw contract was originally for UGX 165 Billion (USD 75 Million) and was later given to SBI/RCC for an accumulative total of over 350 Billion UGX ($160 Million).
The directors of Eutaw, Mr. Timothy McCoy, Richard Pratt and the country representative Apolo Kalyesubula Senkeeto fought to protect Eutaw by appealing to President Museveni. The IGG and her team however convinced the President that they were doing the right thing, and in August 2015, the Minister of Works Abraham Byandala, Apolo Senkeeto were indicted by the IGG and the UNRA executives were fired for disagreeing with her termination of the Eutaw contract.
Mr Senkeeto argued that as the Eutaw Country Representative, he was not a civil servant and that the IGG had no jurisdiction to prosecute him. The Anti-Corruption Court went ahead with prosecution.
Eutaw however launched an independent investigation into the matter and came to realize that this was a normal trend in Uganda where investors bid, win the contract, contracts are illegally stopped, the contractors are defamed and the contract is awarded to another company and the investors threatened by prosecution.
This is one of the reasons President Museveni moved to appoint a parallel anti corruption unit under his office which he announced during the state of nation address.