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Parliament approves Owiny-Dollo, Buteera appointment

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Parliament has today approved the appointment of chief justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo and his deputy Richard Buteera.

The two appeared before the parliamentary Appointments committee chaired by the speaker Rebecca Kadaga in which they were asked questions and were scored at the same time.

An MP who attended the commission meeting said that the major issue that was raised was how the two arms of government, legislature and the judiciary can work together with the aim of reducing the prevailing friction.

The two have had a longstanding battle where they have failed to agree on several issues such as on the probe into the Shs 6 billion oil cash bonanza after justice Steven Kavuma issued an order stopping an inquiry into the matter. Kadaga called the order “stupid”. Of recent, Kadaga also challenged court for “stopping parliament from doing its work” when court ruled that the Shs 10 billion cash payouts to MPs for COVID-19 intervention was irregular.

Kadaga, according to sources who attended the meeting, allowed two MPs Moses Balyeku and Atkins Katusabe to ask questions on her behalf and score the judges. The MPs reportedly scored the two justices who were interviewed separately on their experience, competence, and achievements among others. The MPs who attended the committee say both nominees excelled and were instantly approved.

“They all deserve it as they were very experienced and competent. The only issue that came up was the one on how the two arms of government can work together,” the source said.

When interviewed, the two justices were all confident that they would make it saying the engagement with the committee was fruitful. They committed to fighting corruption in the judiciary and handling the matter of case backlog.

According to Owiny-Dollo, he hopes to get rid of the rampant corruption in the judiciary but asked that a joint effort be put to stop the vice, saying that the judges would not be bribed or corrupted if the public itself wasn’t corrupt.

On the independence of the judiciary, Owiny-Dollo says that he has personally remained very independent and has severally ruled in favour of the opposition and against the government. He says that those who think the independence of the judiciary is about making a decision against the government are wrong.  

“We have made so many decisions and the powers that be are all over the place complaining how could we decide like this. If we were receiving orders from above, we would not be having those decisions. The Constitutional court which I have been handling has issued certain decisions which nobody under the control of another can ever make.” Owiny-Dollo said. 

“As a High court judge in Masaka, I am the one who made Mayanja Mbabali leave the ministerial post. Isn’t that a government position? I am the same person who made a lady from Luweero a member of parliament; to retain her seat, a member of the opposition. So for those who think the independence of judiciary can only be proved by making a decision against the government are wrong.” he added.  

On the case backlog, Owiny-Dollo said that he told the appointments committee that they need a good number of judges if the issues of backlogs are to change. He says that if the issues of more judges are not addressed, then even the next chief justice will still be asked the same after him.

Buteera on his part said that delayed trials frustrate the public and that is what he hopes to achieve. He says the acute shortage in the number of judges should be handled. On corruption, he says it is giving a bad image to the judiciary, and the corrupt judiciary officers should be made to answer for them.

“They [MPs] wanted information from me and I gave them the information they wanted. They asked questions which in my view and observation, I answered satisfactorily. I have been in the court system for so long, there are programs that will improve the judiciary that we think have to work on and see that there are changes in the judiciary and the most important one is clearance of the backlog seeing that the cases do not stay so long in the court system. Delayed trials frustrate the public,” said Buteera. 

Parliament will now forward these names to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.





Source – observer.ug

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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