Prof. Bukenya did not steal any money - Museveni
By Monitor Team
Posted Thursday, October 6 2011 at 00:00
This is the second time President Museveni declares his stance on the innocence of his former vice president. The first such instance was two months ago in Entebbe while meeting the NRM Parliamentary Caucus. He told the meeting that Prof. Bukenya was innocent, claims that sparked off fury from the Judiciary which said their independence was being interfered with.
There was confusion yesterday after a stormy Cabinet meeting chaired by President Museveni who attempted to secure former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya’s release but in vain. In a meeting that centred mainly on Prof. Bukenya’s imprisonment, Mr Museveni, citing a legal opinion from Attorney General Peter Nyombi, reportedly told ministers that Prof. Bukenya did not steal any public funds.
A Cabinet source told this newspaper last evening that Mr Museveni told his ministers that he had received a legal opinion from the AG about three weeks ago, which indicated that there was no evidence against the former VP, so he did not see the reason why Prof. Bukenya was in jail.
Mr Museveni also insisted that as he had told the ruling NRM Parliamentary Caucus two months ago, he believes that Prof. Bukenya has no case to answer. However, when he made the claim, the Judiciary was outraged and issued a statement denouncing what it felt was interference with its independence.
Mr Nyombi last night confirmed having given the opinion but declined to delve into the details. “It’s true I gave the opinion in June but the rest is not for discussion with you,” the AG said by telephone.
Plans on pipeline
The Cabinet, after the remarks by the President later resolved that arrangements be made to have Prof Bukenya released.
It was not clear how the Cabinet wanted the former vice president released but Mr Nyombi is said to have met Prof. Bukenya’s lawyer McDusman Kabega, and delivered the Cabinet resolution, informing him to prepare to apply for bail.
But as Cabinet jostled to secure Prof. Bukenya’s release, it later emerged yesterday there was no judge to handle the bail application making the Cabinet efforts futile. Prof. Bukenya’s bail application had earlier been scheduled for October 11.
A team of lawyers led by Mr Kabega representing the former vice president were forced to drive off after waiting to no avail at the Anti-Corruption Court.
According to our court reporters, who witnessed the confusion, despite making several calls and consultations with the available court officials, Mr Kabega who came from the High Court waited at the Kololo-based court without success until he drove off at about 5.50pm. He did not make any comment
BUKENYA: JUDICIARY TELLS OFF MUSEVENI off Museveni
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By EPHRAIM KASOZI & ANTHONY WESAKA (email the author)
Posted Friday, October 7 2011 at 00:00
Judiciary says bail application for ex-Vice President won’t be brought forward despite President’s comments.
The Judiciary will stick to its constitutional mandate in dispensing justice irrespective of President Museveni’s reported comments on when former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya should be released on bail. “Our position is a constitutional one and we have never deviated from that legal position. Our independence is free meaning that we can deliver,” said Mr Erias Kisawuzi, the spokesman of the Judiciary, yesterday.
Mr Kisawuzi said the institution still stands by its July 13 position in which it held that pronouncements allegedly attributed to the President regarding a then pending Constitutional Court petition filed by Prof. Bukenya contesting his trial were sub judice and undermined the public confidence in courts of law.
In its July statement, the Judiciary had said: “It is important to note that the Constitution provides that the Judiciary is the adjudicating authority in Uganda and no person or authority shall interfere with the courts or judicial officers in the exercise of their judicial functions.”
Justice Reacting to reports that for the second time in three months, Mr Museveni had again declared a stance on the innocence of his former vice president, the Judiciary repeated its earlier position.
During an NRM Parliamentary Caucus meeting in July, the President was quoted to have said that Prof. Bukenya had no case to answer, claims that prompted the Judiciary to again assert its constitutional independence.
Yesterday, Daily Monitor reported that a Cabinet meeting chaired by the President attempted to secure the release of Prof. Bukenya on Wednesday. In the same meeting, Mr Museveni reportedly cited a legal opinion from Attorney General Peter Nyombi, reportedly telling ministers that Prof. Bukenya did not steal any public funds.
But the Uganda Law Society, which is mandated to guide the public on matters of law, has described Mr Museveni’s attempt to secure Prof. Bukenya’s release as “a shock”.
“This is most unfortunate and discredits our Executive on the aspect of respect for the rule of law. Under rule of law; the laws of the land should apply equally to all irrespective of status, affiliations, personality or importance,” said ULS president, James Mukasa Sebugenyi, in a press statement. “Everyone should be amenable to the jurisdiction of the courts. Having an independent, impartial and courageous Judiciary which has integrity is a key tenet of rule of law.”
Prof. Bukenya was on Monday sent to Luzira Maximum Security Prison after his bail on commitment at High Court was cancelled.
The former vice president is charged with abuse of office and fraud for his alleged role in the award of a deal worth Shs9.4 billion to Motorcare to supply 204 executive vehicles during the Commonwealth Meeting. He is also facing another charge of abuse of office in connection with the award of the contract to supply 80 units of BMW R 1200 Police outrider motorcycles for use during the same summit. He is jointly charged with Motorcare Uganda Limited.
Prof. Bukenya through his attorney MacDusman Kabega has applied for bail and court set October 11 for hearing of the application. Mr Sebugenyi maintained that while the President is mandated to exercise Executive power within the Constitution, the law also empowers the Judiciary to exercise its discretion independently.
“As evidenced in the Bukenya case, the Executive arm of government is increasingly interfering with the Judiciary. The matter of the President directing on innocence of Prof. Bukenya and his being granted bail ought to be left to the courts,” said Mr Sebugenyi. ULS have asked the Executive and Attorney General to respect rule of law and independence of the Judiciary.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala and Works State Minister John Byabagambi, yesterday visited Prof. Bukenya. Prisons Spokesperson Frank Baine said Prof. Bukenya is okay and is not complaining and that he has not complained of anything but retains the right to meet people of his choice and whoever comes, he is first consulted.
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