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    OIL CURSE: Ministry of Energy Bosses Quizzed For Loss Of 1.2billion Tax Payer’s Money

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    Ministry of Energy officials being grilled at parliament

     

    The officials from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development are under probe after it was discovered that the delays to compensate project affected persons, to pave way for construction of the oil refinery led tax payers to pay Shs1.239,760,000Billion in fines to the contractor.

    The team from the ministry has today appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to respond to the value for money audit report on the compensation of project affected persons under the refinery project.

    In the 1st March 2018 report to Parliament, the Auditor General revealed that the Resettlement Action Plan was expected to run for eight months, however, the delays extended for four years.

    By that time, the auditors stepped in to investigate the project, they discovered that the contract had been extended five times leading to the increase of the consultancy fees by Shs1.239,760,000 Billion, this was on top of the over Shs3Billion, the consultant was paid for the services.

    According to documents tabled before Parliament, the contract was signed on 13thJune 2013 and was meant to have ended by 13th February 2014, but at the time of audit, the delays had lasted between 20 months to 4years.

    The Auditor blamed the delays on weaknesses in project implementation by Ministry of Energy after it failed to prioritise milestones such as monitoring, evaluation and compliance audits.

    When asked to account how the money was spent, Robert Kasande, the Acting Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy blamed the delays on the shifting of the graves to the resettlement area, saying part of this scope of work wasn’t catered for.

    He denied the outcomes of the audit report arguing that the Shs1.2Bn indicated in the audit report was an additional cost incurred as a result of the balance from the first contract for the unimplemented activities and increase in scope.

    It wasn’t long before Mathias Mpugga, Masaka Municipality MP brought forward a breakdown on how the money was spent with; Shs1.079Billion spent on professional fees, while evacuation of graves cost Shs48Million, with transport and communication costing Shs50Million.

    On the other hand, Shs50Million was spent on printing and stationary, Shs22Million went on field rent while Shs10Million was spent on contingency.

    When tasked to break down how each of the above figures was spent, the Ministry failed to explain which, prompted MPs to wonder why the evacuation of graves wasn’t catered for in the earlier contract, instead of dragging in the activity in the middle of the year.

    Although the monitoring and evaluation activities were supposed to be continuous from inception, the consultant was procured in June 2017.

    Both the Ministry and the Consultant were faulted for contravening section 73(3) of the Land Act Cap227 that requires prompt payment of compensation to any person having an interest in the land for any damage caused to crops or building and for land and materials taken or used for the works.

    Information obtained from the Ministry indicates that 2,680 Project affected persons were eligible for cash compensation and at the time of the audit, 2657 had been paid by the time of audit in November 2017.

    However, an analysis into the payment files indicated that the residents were forced by the Consultant to sign, acknowledging receipt of money prior to actual payment of the cash.

    The revelation angered MPs who accused the Ministry of conniving with the Consultants to defraud Ugandans.

    Kasande concurred with the Auditor and revealed that the Ministry came to know of the Consultant’s fraudulent practice three months after payment of the residents had resumed.

    “Yes, this is true and this wasn’t the smartest thing to do but at that stage, we wanted something that could work and the consultant convinced us and it worked,” Kasande said.

    Jesica Ababiku, Adjumani Woman MP rejected the explanation accusing the Ministry of looking on as the Consultant traded tax payers money in his private business, in a bid to elude paying interest rates in commercial banks.

    The audit also noted that although the project called for hiring of a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) to carry out compliance audits on the implementation of the project, the requirement was rubbished by the Ministry with no NGO put in place to monitor the activities of both the Ministry and Consultant.

    Uganda’s Oil Refinery will be built on a 29 square kilometres (7300Acres) in Kabaale Township, Buseruka Sub-county, Hoima District, along the shores of Lake Albert, with the project expected to cost USD4Billion approximately Shs14,586,359,798,369.60Trillion.

     

    By Stella Mugoya 

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    NATIONAL

    Gloves Off As Prime Minister Nabbanja Declares War On Minister Lumumba Over UN Trip…

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    Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja (R) and minister Kasule Lumumba (L)

    Furious Prime Minister who also doubles as the Kakumiro district woman Member of Parliament Robinah Nabbanja Musafiiri has declared a war on Justine Kasule Lumumba the minister of General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister over the recent trip to United States of America to attend the United Nations Assembly.

    Nabbanja revealed that she was surprised to see Lumumba attending the Assembly meeting because she was not given permission from her as the leader of government business who is responsible for giving ministers and government officials permission to travel abroad.

    She explained that she kept quiet while in US. However, when they immediately landed at Entebbe, she issued a directive not to refund any money to Lumumba and the people she travelled with because they traveled on their own.

    “She will not bring here her fighting practices she has exhibited where she came from. We don’t even have that slot of the minister for General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister. I directed that she should not receive a refund for the money she used in that trip,” a furious Nabanja told CBS radio.

    She added that she was told that Lumumba was part of the delegation that went with Jessica Alupo the vice president whom Nabbanja said does not have authority to ask because she is her boss.

    She however explained that president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni gave her the green light to travel to the UN Assembly.

    Nabbanja noted that for her to travel to the US to attend the UN Assembly, she first received a special invitation from the UN and report to the president who allowed her to travel.

    She said that while in the US, she meet a number of investors on the sideline of the UN Assembly who picked interest to invest their money in Uganda.

    She added that she also met some of the top leaders of the World Bank who promised her that very soon, they are going to lift the ban they slapped on Uganda because of the Anti-Homosexuality Act passed by the parliament and signed by President Museveni.

    Nabbanja denied allegations that she travelled with a huge delegation including his physical trainer.

    She divulged that she traveled with only five people and among them was his bodyguard, protocol officers and others.

    She threatened to take legal action against the Monitor Publication adding that some papers are used to fight her by publishing malicious stories which put her in bad light before right thinking members of socity.

    “They wrote that I stole Shs9bn which was allocated to teach youths how to drink coffee, yet the money was misused before I was even appointed a prime minister. Enough is enough, I’m going to act against them and you will hear the results,” a furious Nabbanja threatened.

    She explained that her predecessors used to travel abroad with huge delegations but they were never publicised as it was done to her.

    It is on this note that she alleged that her enemies are using the media to put her down but vowed to go down fighting.

    Hamson Obua the government Chief Whip in parliament revealed that during the NRM parliamentary caucus meeting at State House Entebbe, Nabbanja and Alupo were given the opportunity by the president to clear the air over the huge delegation they both traveled with to UN Assembly. They both denied the allegations.

    theGrapevine has established that there has been a silent war between Nabbanja and Lumumba with the Prime Minister accusing Lumumba of disrespecting her and backbiting her.

    Before being appointed a minister, Lumumba, who was the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party Secretary General had a bad working relationship with Dr. Tanga Odoi the party Electoral Commission chairperson.

    theGrapevine made efforts to get a comment from Lumumba over her boss’ allegations against her but her known phone numbers were not going through.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    NEWS

    Shadow Minister Warns Speaker Among To Prepare For The Worst As Zaake Asks For Special Audit On Parliamentary Commission…

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    The shadow Internal Affairs ministers who also doubles as the Mukono North legislator Abudallah Kiwanuka has warned his boss the speaker of parliament Annet Anita Among to prepare the worst after the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka on behalf of the parliament lost the Constitutional petition against maverick Mityana Municipality Member of Parliament (MP) Francis Butebi Zaake.

    In a majority judgment of 4-1, the Constitutional Court allowed Zaake’s petition and declared the actions of Speaker Among to dismiss him from the parliamentary commission illegal.

    Court ordered the Attorney General to pay half of the costs of the petition.

    In her leading judgement, Justice Irene Mulyagonja supported by the judgment of other justices who include; Justice Eva Luswata, Justice Muzamir Kibedi and Justice Oscar Kihika declared that the then deputy speaker Among acted as a judge in her own case when she continued chairing the parliament in a matter which she had personal interest which resulted into contravening with Article 2(2),(2), 8A, 28, 42, 44(c) of the constitution.

    They added that parliament violated rule 111(5) of the Rules of Procedure of the parliament during the debate of the motion to remove Zaake from the office of the Commissioner.

    The amendment of the recommendations in the report of the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline to include a recommendation that Zaake be removed from the office of the commissioner had no legal basis and was illegal.

    However, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire disagreed with other members of the panel and dismissed the application but her judgment was defeated by the majority judgment.

    The entire legal battled started in 2022 when speaker Among made statements while presiding over plenary concerning legislator Zaake’s gold medal win in the East African parliamentary games even though he claimed he was still nursing torture wounds as a result of State operatives torture which did not went well the youthful legislator.

    Zaake took his anger to social media and blasted Among which resulted into his dismissal from the parliamentary commission.

    However, Kiwanuka insists that Zaake’s win in the Constitutional Court is a vote of no confidence from President Museveni explaining that if he wanted Among to win, she would have won.

    He insisted that Museveni wanted to show that she doesn’t have the powers she thinks she is exhibiting and she should be very careful because very soon, she could be impeached from her office.

    Kiwanuka explained that Museveni has been sending serious warning signals to Among that she is nothing.

    That’s why he refused to respond to her when parliament impeached junior Lands, Housing and Urban Development minister Persis Namuganza.

    Namuganza is still sitting on the front benches at parliament where ministers sat even after her impeachment.

    Kiwanuka’s warning comes hours after Zaake boasted that he is going back to the parliamentary Commission in high gear and he will start with asking for a special audit on the funds which were okayed by the parliamentary commission to be used by parliament.

    He insisted that one of the reasons why he was illegally dismissed from the parliamentary Commission was because he questioned the manner in which the money was released and sabotaged some of the deals in the commission.

    Zaake asked fellow legislators like; Dr. Twaha Kagabo, Jim Lukwago to believe in themselves and stop taking looking at Among as goddess because she can also be defeated.

    However, Kira Municipality legislator Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda warned Zaake that even if he has won the court case, he might fail to perform as a Commissioner as a result of being frustrated by fellow commissioners.

    He pleaded with the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga Nsamba to talk to the speaker so that she mends her relationship with Zaake to create a good working relationship.

    The Attorney General has already filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court against Justice Mulyagonja’s leading judgment.

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    NATIONAL

    DP Fights Deepen As Legal Advisor Declares Mbidde A Bush Lawyer Over Party Court Defeat…

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    Lawyer Erias Nalukoola (R) and DP national vice president Fred Mukasa Mbidde (L)

    Furious Democratic Party (DP) legal advisor Erias Nalukoola has declared his party national vice president Fred Mukasa Mbidde a scrubland lawyer who lacks authority to challenge his understanding and interpretation of the laws of the land.

    Nalukoola was responding to Mbidde’s statements where he accused him of causing the party’s defeat in the Civil Division of the High Court by Ben Kiwanuka, who petitioned Court after the party leadership denied him the opportunity to compete for the position of the party Secretary General in the recent party delegates’ conference held in Gulu district.

    Mbidde explained that the party top leadership didn’t give instructions to Nalukoola to represent the party in the said suit insisting that he is responsible for the party defeat.

    He added that even though Nalukoola is the party’s chief legal advisor, it doesn’t mean that he automatically has the right to represent the party in all legal duties since the party has the right to hire a private law firm to represent them after assessing the gravity of the matter and establishing that their in-house legal officer cannot hold it successfully.

    Mbidde revealed that the party leadership including Norbert Mao, the party president general who also doubles as the Constitution and Justice minister in president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s government declared the elections made at the party delegates conference in Gulu illegal.

    He assured party members and supporters that the party leadership is going to study the judgment and establish whether they appeal it or not because most of them are proven lawyers.

    However, in response, Nalukoola blasted Mbidde and warned him to never again compare himself to him when it comes to matters of law and interpretation.

    He challenged him to table solomonic cases he won in courts of law like he has been doing.

    He wondered why Mbidde who studied law at a mature age after studying other inferior courses at Makerere university can compare himself to him who directly from Kawempe muslim Secondary School went to Makerere University school of law and passed with flying colours and followed them up with a successful practice.

    Nalukoola who was hosted at Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi’s CBS radio talk show revealed that when the judgment was delivered via email, Mbidde was among the DP top leadership members who stormed his office at Masengere building seeking for help to interpret the judgment but he was busy.

    When Nalukoola’s secretary advised him to wait for him because he was very busy, he instead decided to go.

    He explained when Kiwanuka petitioned Court against DP and served as the party legal advisor, he directly discussed the merits of the case with Dr. Gerald Siranda the party Secretary General who was among the witnesses who swore affidavits defending the case and was in the know of whatever was going on.

    He boasted that DP partly succeeded in the judgment even though they were ordered to pay part of the costs Kiwanuka used in the entire case.

    He advised Mbidde and his group who signed an agreement with president Museveni to buy a cock and take it to his father thanking him for producing and educating a bright son who helped their party and the country at large.

    Nalukoola pleaded with Mbidde to concentrate more on the agreement he signed with Museveni instead of advising him on DP issues which are less of his concern.

    By Grapevine Reporter

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