We has lost enough money to Uganda thieves. There is need to do much more than the efforts in place. I propose that in future we need to get a zoo where all the convicted thieves should serve their sentences. It is absurd how some people imagine it is their right to steal public funds for their own comfort. We must see this end. If you are in public office, whether you fought a foolish war thinking that your wages would be to loot the national treasury, time is up for you. No body has the right to loot the resources of the tax payer. I don't even understand why the Auditor General does not change the way he works such that all monies which belong to the tax payer are audited before they are spent. We cannot trust anybody now with our money.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
By TABU BUTAGIRA
Only two years in operation, the Anti-Corruption Court has distinguished itself as the most effective court by delivering judgments and dispensing justice faster than the other five divisions of the High Court.
In the period, based on official data, six judges and magistrates made 61 convictions and awarded a total of Shs3.2 billion, three times the annual budget of a small district, to be paid by the convicts in fines, refunds and or compensations.
An analysis of both the new court’s own records, and data on case disposal as contained in the annual performance report of the Justice, Law and Order Sector, shows judges and magistrates at the anti-graft court make rulings at most within two years while their peers in the Civil, Criminal, Family, Land and Commercial divisions take much longer to rule on cases before them, thereby accumulating the most backlog.
The latest JLOS report released in September 2011 shows the Criminal Division of the High Court had 71,148 pending cases, the worst backlog, followed by the Civil Division, which was yet to dispose of some 50,277 cases.
Judiciary spokesman Erias Kisawuzi did not answer our repeated telephone calls to seek an explanation as to why the Anti-Corruption Court, even when newly-founded, delivers justice faster than, say the other five divisions of the High Court, although factors such as number of judges vis-à-vis cases registered may have some influence.
However, the quick sting and tough penalties meted by the Anti-graft Court judges, whereas good in symbolising faster dispensation of justice, appear still inadequate to scare bureaucrats in a country that Transparency International ranks in its latest Corruption Perception Index report as the third most corrupt in East Africa, worse than Rwanda and Tanzania.
Uganda scored 2.4 on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean) and took the 143rd slot of 183 countries sampled worldwide. These surveys and assessments, according to TI researchers, capture public opinions on bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and the effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts.
From official data obtained by this newspaper, embezzlement, corruption and abuse of office top offenses adjudged by the Kololo-based court, tallying with findings of global anti-graft watchdog.
At position 143 in the latest ranking, Uganda improved slightly from the previous year. But does this mean corruption is reducing or has reduced in the country of 33.6 million people?
Not necessarily. The better rating, ironically, comes at a time when alleged graft cases involving government big shots – from ministers implicated in taking bribe from foreign oil firms or being prosecuted for pilfering part of the Shs500b 2007 Chogm cash to another facing censure in Parliament for allegedly stealing UBC transmission equipment – choke transparency/accountability campaigns and dip public confidence in those in charge of the country.
Anti-graft court tooth marks
That many Ugandan bureaucrats abuse their offices or involve in other corrupt practices for self-enrichment is evident, according to judicial records. The Anti-Corruption Court, set up in 2009 as a special division of the High Court to try corruption suspects, has over the past two years convicted 21 officials for embezzlement, 12 for corruption and 11 on abuse of office charges.
A total 54 (69.2 per cent) convictions were secured in trials for embezzlement, corruption, causing financial loss and abuse of office while 18 corresponding prosecutions failed.
The numbers of convictions for nearly 24 months appear fewer but successfully proving corruption cases, according to prosecutors, is difficult because those engaged in the vice work in syndicate and help destroy evidence that would incriminate the other when caught.
Former Ethics minister James Nsaba Buturo, who lamented two years ago that corruption had become the currency for transacting official business, termed the practice of peer-to-peer shielding as “scratch my back, I scratch yours.”
The Inspectorate of Government (IGG), the principal agency founded to combat corruption and promote good governance, has in various mandatory reports to Parliament indicated reported corruption cases continue to swell. This, the Ombudsman attributes to increased public awareness about graft and confidence in the institution as well as intense media coverage.
Over the two years, the Anti-Corruption Court made at least 61 convictions, sentencing many of the convicts to between one and 12 years imprisonment. The shorter duration of trial before the court has seen suspects obtain faster justice since most judgments at the court are delivered within two years.
The higher effectiveness of the court, compared to other divisions of the High Court, is captured in the newly-released 2010/2011 Annual Performance Report of the Justice, Law and Order sector. For instance, the disposal rate of cases by the Anti-Corruption Court was highest at 60.9 per cent followed by the Land Division (54.4 per cent) and Family Division (53.7 per cent).
The criminal, civil and commercial divisions of the High Court completed less than half of cases brought before them, accumulating between themselves a backlog of 124,401 cases, the report says.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has won twice higher the number of cases it lost before the Anti-Corruption Court since 2009, but its prosecution performance is poorer compared to that of the Ombudsman.
Our analysis of the court’s records over the past two years, as per October 2011, indicates that the DPP successfully prosecuted 36 of 41 lawsuits it lodged in the Anti-Corruption Court, losing 15.
However, the IGG filed comparably fewer (29) cases before the same court, won 25 (86 per cent) and lost only four. Besides, most big cases that resulted in convictions and lengthy jail terms of high profile individuals such as Teddy Cheeye, the former director for Economic Monitoring in the President’s Office, ex-NSSF Managing Director Chandi Jamwa and interdicted Works engineer, Sam Bagonza, were prosecuted by the Ombudsman. It is not clear if sloppy investigations by police hamstring DPP as opposed to the Ombudsman that investigates its own cases and prosecutes offenders.
There are at least 10 cases in the court’s archives that lack corresponding entries on prosecuting agency and detailed outcomes, making it difficult to ascertain if the IGG or DPP filed them or whether they could have been won or lost. The anomaly also raises questions about the quality and reliability of official data.
Compared to the High Court (civil or land divisions) where cases drag on for several years, at the Anti-graft Court, most rulings are made within a year or two. Put another way, suspects get justice faster.
Deo Imere Corruption
Wilfred Chebet forgery
David Kaye Cheptuke Corruption
Stephen Wakhweya Embezzlement
Sam Kamba Embezzlement
A M. Chemisto & 3 others Embezzlement
Moses Abanikye Embezzlement
James Godfrey Obua Abuse of office
B S. Okello & 2 others Embezzlement
Catherine Namaganda Embezzlement
Denis Kilama Causing financial loss
Wycliff John Gashenyi Appeal
Emillio Thinno Corruption
Emmanuel Matovu Causing financial loss
Florence Biringi Embezzlement
Enock Kaweesa Impersonation
James Maganda Embezzlement
Abbas Musa Mocha Corruption
George Kiweeswa Abuse of office
Philemona Namirembe Uttering false document
Senteza Kajubi Tumwebaza Impersonation
John Bechy Okoya Uttering false document
Moses Kibirango Impersonation
Eng. Francis Otto Corruption & bribery
Ssali Bwire Corruption
Erick Kizito Forgery
Nwangi Nthigah Forgery
Stephen Bakain Muhungirehe Corruption
Cyprian Okot Otto Forgery
Saulo Onyanyo & others Embezzlement
Mary Kabahweza Uttering false document
Convict Offence Sentence/ Refund
Stephen Semakula Corruption 1 year or Shs1m fine
Paul Tasingika Impersonating a public officer 1 year imprisonment
Rose Nambusi Embezzlement 1 year in jail or Shs1m fine
John Abiriga Corruption & bribery Convicted (detail unavailable)
Nad Ampumize Causing financial loss 3 years imprisonment
Ojok Omol Embezzlement 18 months imprisonment
Unnamed (Accused 3) Causing financial loss Shs1m or 2 years in jail
V Semanda & another Abuse of office 2 years in jail each, Shs1.2m fine
Ambross Ajal Embezzlement 3 years in jail & Shs4.1m refund
Richard Bongomin Akal Embezzlement 3 years in jail & Shs11m refund
Mubaraka Zaake & 3 others Causing financial loss 6 years in jail & Shs60m refund
Nicholas Segujja Criminal trespass 6 months imprisonment
Keneth Kaawe Embezzlement 8 years in jail & Shs210m refund
Gregory Mugisha Abuse of office 3 years imprisonment
V Baluka & another Abuse of office 4 years in jail & Shs100 refund
Stanley Mugenyi (Offence unspecified) Conviction upheld, 3 years in jail
Florence Birungi Appeal against conviction Appeal dismissed
Richard Bongomin Akal Embezzlement Conviction upheld, 3 years in jail
Jackson Byamukama Abuse of office Appeal dismissed
V P. Wamala Soliciting gratification Appeal dismissed
3 unnamed persons Embezzlement @ Shs310m refund, 8 yrs in jail
Milly Kirungi & 2 others Embezzlement Appeal broke, details unavailable
Dr Isanga Embezzlement 5 years imprisonment
Paul Senfuka Embezzlement 5 years imprisonment
Teddy Seezi Cheye Embezzlement 10 yrs in jail & Shs100m refund
Sarah Birete Embezzlement 10 years imprisonment
Eng. Sam Bagonza Embezzlement 5 years imprisonment
David Chandi Jamwa Abuse of office 12 years imprisonment
Herbert Shabila & 2 others Corruption Shs4m refund each
Ann-Lizza Mondon & Elizabeth Nororano Embezzlement @5 yrs in jail, Shs30m refund