COURT, KAMPALA: Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court has ordered the arrest of Pastor Franklin Mugisha Mondo of Empowerment Christian Centre Church International on allegations of fleecing worshipers of more than Shs4.5bn in bogus scholarship programmes.
Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu on Thursday issued the arrest warrant after Pastor Mondo failed to show up in court to answer the charges. His lawyer, Mr Robert Lutaro, did not appear either.
Ms Kamasanyu said on January 28, Mr Lutaro told court that Pastor Mondo did not appear in court that day because he had been taken to South Africa for treatment for Covid-19.
The state prosecutor, Ms Mariam Njuki, told court that Mr Lutaro had promised that Mr Mondo would show up yesterday.
However, when his case file was called up yesterday, Mr Mondo was absent.
“Since criminal summons were extended on January 28 in agreement that his counsel brings him (Mondo) today, but in vain a warrant of arrest is hereby issued to compel him to come to court,” Ms Kamasanyu stated.
Court adjourned the case to February 11.
Pastor Mondo is charged with obtaining money by false pretence and conspiracy to commit fraud.
He is jointly charged with Pastor Siraj Ssemanda, the founder of Revival Church Bombo in Luweero District. Mr Ssemanda is on remand.
Other suspects are Jimmy Arinaitwe, and musician Margaret Nakayima, alias Nabbi Omukazi. The duo is also on remand.
Nakayima is also charged with helping Mr Ssemanda to escape justice over fleecing thousands of worshippers.
The prosecution contends that on November 15, 2020, between Kampala and Mutukula border in Kyotera District, Nakayima assisted Ssemanda escape punishment.
Prosecution states that Mr Ssemanda, Mr Arinaitwe, Mr Mondo and others still at large between 2017 and March 2019 in Bombo in Luweero and Kampala fraudulently obtained millions of shillings from various people by false pretence.
They claimed that their organisation, Hands Across the World Initiative Uganda, would construct churches for pastors, houses for the needy, offer scholarships and educate the local needy children whose parents had contributed the money.
Last year, Mr Ssemanda was charged at Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court after he was arrested in a joint operation led by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit commander ,Lt Col Edith Nakalema, and police at Mutukula border with Tanzania as he attempted to leave the country.