KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Director of Public Prosecutions-DPP Jane Frances Abodo has instituted a team of prosecutors to try businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba and his brother on charges related to forgery of a court order and evading tax worth sh20 billion.
The case had stalled for seven years and it stems from 2009 when Basajjabalaba and his five companies were awarded 169 Billion Shillings by the government as compensation for the loss of contracts to manage and develop five city markets and the Constitutional Square.
But the businessman reportedly conspired with his brother Muzamiru Basajjabalaba to evade the tax of 20 billion shillings which was supposed to come out of this compensation by forging a court order.
In the forged court order, Basajjabalaba’s companies led by Haba Group of Companies signed a consent purportedly with the Attorney General showing that the government had agreed to pay them the compensation in question.
However, also among the terms and conditions of the forged consent Judgement which was later presented to Auditors was that the businessman gets compensated without any tax levied against him.
But later, Uganda Revenue Authority-URA through its then Acting Commissioner General Moses Kajubi was suspicious of the consent order issued and decided to verify it from the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ministry.
The then-Attorney General Professor Khiddu Makubuya also went to the High Court in Kampala to verify the Consent order’s authenticity. It was confirmed by the then Civil Division Registrar John Eudes Keitirima that it was not existing in their records and neither was it made from their court.
As a result, the brothers were arrested and arraigned before the Anti-Corruption Court, remanded to prison and later given bail on tax evasion and forgery charges.
However, they petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging the legality of their trial and they lost the bid. Instead, the Court ordered for their immediate trial.
The brothers then appealed in the Supreme Court and lost in a decision of six Justices against one, paving way for the trial in a Judgement that was delivered on November 19 2021.
Two weeks after the decision was made, the Legal Brains Trust through its Chief Executive Officer Isaac Ssemakadde petitioned Abodo demanding an explanation as to why she was not resuming the trial yet the Supreme Court had okayed it.
Consequently, the DPP forwarded the complaint to the Anti-Corruption Department in her office for management in her December 9, 2021, directive.
In a letter dated December 23 2021 from the office of the DPP to Ssemakadde, it indicates that they have constituted a team and is currently making necessary court preparations as per his complaint.
“Your referenced letter was referred to me by the DPP to attend to the concerns raised therein. I have read your letter and respond thereto as follows”, reads in part the letter signed by the Assistant DPP Josephine Namatovu.
It adds that” We received and studied the Supreme Court decision in the above Constitutional Appeal and we have since constituted a prosecution team, which is studying the case papers and making the necessary court preparations”.
Namatovu’s letter however doesn’t reveal how many prosecutors have been lined up to prosecute Basajjabalaba and his brother and neither does it reveal their names.
The Spokesperson for the office of the DPP Jacqueline Okui declined to reveal the number and identifies of the prosecutors.
“The office does not find it prudent to divulge the members of the prosecution team at this stage for the sake of the integrity of the review process. However, the team is headed by Josephine Namatovu, Assistant DPP and head of the Anti-Corruption Department”, said Okui.
In March 2020, the Constitutional Court Justices led by Justice Kenneth Kakuru ordered Basajjabalaba and his companies to refund to the government all the money that was illegally paid to him as compensation for losing the tender to manage five city markets and the Constitutional Court.
The Justices noted that the compensation was paid to Basajjabalaba and his companies illegally following a contract that he had entered into with the defunct Kampala City Council without the advice of the Attorney General.
The decision followed a successful petition by Legal Brains Trust through Ssemakadde who had asked the court to direct Basajjabalaba, his companies and all the government officials implicated in this compensation saga to refund on grounds that it had been obtained fraudulently.
However, both Basajjabalaba and Legal Brains Trust have since appealed against this matter and it is also pending a hearing in the Supreme Court.