KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Director of Public Prosecutions Jane Frances Abodo has withdrawn an appeal challenging a decision by the Anti-Corruption Court that money laundering charges were maliciously instituted against lawyer Paul Wanyoto Mugoya.
The notice communicating the withdraw of the appeal against Wanyoto and businessman Mugisha Patrick alias Allan Kantu was tendered on Thursday before a panel of three Court of Appeal Justices comprised of Lady Justice, Elizabeth Musoke, Catherine Bamugemereire, and Steven Musota.
It was tendered by Chief State Attorney Harriet Ongom who was accompanied by Steven Ariong. Wanyoto’s lawyers led by Jude Byamukama had no objection to the withdrawal.
The Justices were left with no option but instead to endorse the withdrawal by dismissing the appeal.
The DPP was challenging the decision by the Anti-Corruption Court Judge Lawrence Gidudu who heard an application by lawyer Wanyoto and Patrick Mugisha. The application where the Attorney General and investigating officer Sergeant Joshua Oumo were listed as the only respondents sought to dismiss money laundering charges involving 1.2 billion Shillings against Wanyoto and Mugisha for having been maliciously filed against them together with eight others in 2018.
The group largely composed of businessmen had been accused in the Anti-Corruption Court of conspiring to defraud businessman, Ssuna Dauda Katenda of Shillings 1.2 billion.
They reportedly approached Katende claiming that one of the accused persons Abraham Mukiibi had Shillings 18.5 billion that had been frozen in DFCU Bank on orders of Bank of Uganda to trick him into giving them the money such that they can pay bribes to officials in the central bank to have the bank account unfrozen and in return, they were to refund with huge profits.
However, on his part, Mugisha had asked the court to dismiss the charges on grounds that he had spent more than 30 days in various police cells in Kampala without being arraigned in court. And therefore, under the Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2019, his trial couldn’t stand.
But in his ruling delivered on February 10, 2021, although Justice Gidudu reasoned that on Wanyoto’s part, the charges against him were an afterthought actuated with malice.
“The evidence presented through the audio recording falls short of corroborating evidence, the torture allegations put forward by the applicants. On the contrary, it shows that the charges preferred against the 1st applicant(Wanyoto) are an afterthought actuated by malice. It revealed the underworld of some investigators in manufacturing evidence against people they disagree with”, ruled Gidudu.
But besides this, the Judge before taking leave of the matter made strong statements criticizing the manner in which investigators deal with cases involving money and exhibits before deciding to charge suspects in court.
“There is no point in departing from the original charges of obtaining money by false pretense. This application has exposed the criminality that goes behind the scenes before some people are charged in court. The DPP has the discretion to decide on who to charge in court but malice should never be part of that discretion. The office of the DPP should be above petty machinations…. “, added Gidudu.
A source who preferred anonymity said the reason as to why the DPP has decided to withdraw the appeal is that she had wrongly filed it in the Criminal Division instead of the Civil Division of the Appellate Court.
In 2018, Wanyoto was charged in the Anti-Corruption Court together with seven senior police officers on allegations of extorting Shillings 1.4 billion from Park Seunghoon and Jang Shingu Un, both South Korean nationals. However, the charges were later withdrawn against Wanyoto and his co-accused.
In February 2019, Wanyoto was sent to Luzira Prisons on charges of obtaining money by false pretense and conspiracy to commit a felony after he reportedly conspired with city businessman, Moses Ndyanabangi, the Director of Consolidated Services Limited to defraud over Shillings 700 million from Yahya Osman Muhammad in a fake gold deal.