Prime Minister Hon Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has come out refuting media reports that he was involved in a move to cover up a corruption case implicating Works and Transport Minister Hon Abraham Byandala.
Mr Rugunda was accused in a Sunday monitor publication, of holding a meeting in which he attempted obstructing Police investigations into the Minister’s alleged role in the graft scandal surrounding the Mukono-Katosi road construction project.
In the meeting at his offices, Premier Rugunda is reported to have asked head of Police’s Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department [CIID] Grace Akullo to drop the investigations into Byandala’s case.
The Prime Minister however, in a Sunday evening statement, described the story as disingenuous and incorrect
Rugunda stated that while he was alive to the reports about the controversies surrounding the road project, his and government’s interest was to ensure effective delivery of services to the people of Uganda, and value for money for all public funds spent on implementation of Government programs.
“The issues raised about the procurement process to construct the Mukono-Katosi Road are serious and require proper investigations to establish the truth,” he said.
“These investigations have to be done by the institutions mandated by the Constitution to do so, and the Government fully supports them to conduct their work unhindered.”
Minister Byandala was recently summoned to Police’s Special Investigations Bureau to explain his role in the questioned procurement process for the contractor of the 74km road project.
He however, turned down the summon on grounds that he had recorded another statement with the IGG, something that didn’t go down well with CIID’s Akullo.
Yesterday’s publication alleged that Rugunda had asked Akullo to go easy on Byandala since he is a “senior government servant who has served the country for a long time and such summons would diminish his political ratings ahead of the election period.”
In his brief retaliation however, Rugunda doesn’t acknowledge or deny holding the meeting with the CIID boss as alleged in the paper.
He only states, “It is not only incorrect, but disingenuous to read in sections of the press, suggesting that there is a plan to prevent due process from taking place. This is totally unfounded. Obstruction of justice has no place in the conduct of public affairs.”
Opposition Forum for Democratic Change Spokesperson Mr John Kikonyogo told us he was unconvinced by the Premier’s response.
“I am not satisfied. He didn’t tell us whether the meeting took place in his office. We need to know if he indeed summoned the CIID chief,” he said.
MR Kikonyogo, however, quickly” added that the media claims were not to be taken as gospel truth, since they could not be authenticated.
Many people, high ranking at that, are involved. They are after each others’ necks. Byandala is being fought by fellow ministers. So it’s not easy to know the authenticity of the story,” he noted.