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Lawyer Patrick Kiconco handed to police over shs39b tea farmer’s money

Lawyer Patrick Kiconco (L) appearing before COSASE on Tuesday, August 15, 2023

KAMPALA, (UG): The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE) has handed over City lawyer Patrick Kiconco Katabaazi to police over the alleged misappropriation of Shs 39 billion meant for Kigezi Region Tea Nursery bed operators.

Kiconco, a partner at Pathway Advocates, a Kampala-based law firm was last week summoned by parliament following a meeting on August 10, 2023, with NAADS Executive Director Samuel Mugasi who failed to account for the funds.

COSASE is currently reviewing the Auditor General’s report on NAADS’ financial statements for the 2021/2022 fiscal year.

Farmers have accused Pathway Advocates of not fully compensating them, contrary to Kiconco’s claims in his accountability reports to NAADS.

For instance, Kiconco asserted that he paid Shs 150,928,485 to Sirajje Mastiko, yet the farmer’s bank statement showed only Shs 105 million received. Similarly, Kiconco reported paying Henry Tukahirwa Shs 24,298,160, but only Shs 11 million was received by the farmer, and Shs 22,417,559 was debited back to the law firm’s account on the same day.

On August 10th, Kiconco was scheduled to appear before the committee but sent his colleague, Asiimwe Mugumya, who was rejected by the committee.

According to the Auditor General’s report, NAADS disbursed Shs 39 billion to Pathways Advocates as compensation for tea nursery operators who had taken legal action against the government for failing to procure their seedlings.

Mugasi presented evidence that NAADS provided funds to Pathways Advocates in two instalments: Shs 27 billion and Shs 12 billion.

Hon. Eddie Kwizera of Bukimbiri County raised concerns about beneficiaries from Kisoro not receiving the funds as expected.

Mugasi responded that he was unaware and suggested that Kiconco provide the information.

The Committee’s lead, Hon. Ronald Ndyomugenyi the Rukiga County Member of Parliament, stated that while NAADS had evidence of disbursing funds to Pathways Advocates, the farmers had not been adequately compensated.

He noted that the lawyer’s accountability lacked specific details for each farmer, prompting the Committee’s Vice Chairperson, Hon. Lucy Akello, to summon Kiconco to appear before the committee on August 15, 2023.

Akello accused NAADS of not ensuring proper accountability of the funds distributed by Pathways Advocates, stressing that NAADS holds the responsibility to verify that the farmers have indeed received the money.

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