By Sania Babirye
Anti corruption court Justice Lawrence Gidudu has ruled that the former works minister Abraham Byandala and his six co accused have a case to answer in the Mukono- Katosi road saga in which government lost over 24.7 billion shillings in shoddy upgrade work.
According to Justice Gidudu, the Inspector General of Government Irene Mulyagonja proved a pr-mafacie case against the accused after presenting 23 witness.
Justice Gidudu has explained that Byandala and others authored documents and that they must individually explain why the authored them, including the now minister without portfolio explaining to the tax payers why he did not take due diligence before signing off the contract to a fake company costing the nation billions of shillings.
The IGG thorough her attorney Sarah Birungi charged Byandala with Abuse of office , causing government a financial loss and disobedience of her orders to stop the works on the Mukono-katosi -Nyenga road.
She accuses the former works Minister to have defied the order and instead influenced the procurement process and proceeded to sign the contract to an incompetent company ETAW.
In his written submission, Byandala had claimed that he had the mandate to give policy directives as a minister however Justice Gidudu has ruled that Byandala must explain whether in his policy directive, it involved directing UNRA to sign a contract to a ghost company.
Byandala’s co accused include the former Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) officials Berunado Ssebbugga, Joe Ssemugooma, Wilberforce Senjako and Marvin Baryaruha.
These are charged with Abuse of office and negligence of their official duties resulting into the loss and must explain to whom they paid the money to construct the road since EUTAW has never been seen at the site .
Others include city businessman Apolo Senkeeto who has been ordered to defend himself against allegations of theft and obtaining the contentious 24.7 billion shillings by falsely representing himself as the president of ETAW -Uganda, the ghost company.
The last suspect is Isaac Mugote of Housing Finance Bank who has been ordered to explain why he failed to verify the securities presented by ETAW before releasing out the money which securities would have been a fall back position to government after investigations revealed that the company is non-existent.
However Byandala and his co accused maintained their innocence and had asked court to find a case of no answer against them on grounds that prosecution had not adduced sufficient evidence to warrant their defense .
The accused are facing 24 counts of abuse of office,disobedience of lawful orders,influence and peddling,obtaining money by false pretense and embezzlement among others.
According to the IGG,on the 14th of November 2013 Byandala ordered the signing of a contract between UNRA and Etawu, a construction company before due date for construction and upgrading of the road leading to the loss of 24.7 billion shillings to a company that was not qualified.