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Beneficiaries Culpable as Parliament Hears Handshake Report

Committee Chairperson Abdul Katuntu presenting the report before the House

Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authority and State Enterprises (COSASE) today officially released the report on their investigations Shs. 6bn reward given to 42 public officers who participated in the Heritage Oil and Gas Arbitration case.

The committee was tasked by Parliament on January 19 to among others investigate the claims that the public officers solicited for the handshake, the basis of determination of the beneficiaries of the bonus payment, examine whether all proper and legal procedures under the laws of Uganda were followed in making the payment.

The report by the legislators led by the committee chairperson, Abdul Katuntu revealed that all the beneficiaries denied soliciting for the reward apart from Ali Ssekatawa.

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The beneficiaries gave basis for the reward as Article 98 and 99 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda suggesting that the President being the fountain of honor exercised his executive powers and directed that the team be given the reward.

Despite the President informing the committee that it was his decision to reward the team, members found it morally wrong and setting a bad precedent for other public servants having confirmed that the reward was a solicitation.

Katuntu pointed out, “According to Black’s Law Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, solicit refers to the act or instance of requesting or seeking to obtain something.”

The committee reviewed letters by the Attorney General dated April 13, 2015 and that of the president dated November 16, 2015 which all confirmed that the team that had met the president had solicited for money as a reward for their tireless efforts which contributed to the winning of the oil case.

“It is evident from the President’s letter and testimony corroborated by the commissioner General’s letter that the team which met the President at his country home in Rwakitura on May 17, 2015 requested for a reward to which the president agreed.”

Those implicated for soliciting the reward include; the Attorney General, Fred Ruhindi, URA Executive Director, Doris Akol, Allen Kagina, Ali Ssekatawa, Peter Muliisa, Martin Mwambutsya, Francis Atoke, George Kalemera, Honey Malinga and Ernest Rubondo.

The committee noted that the reward was in contravention of the Constitution particularly Articles 98 and 99 as relied on by the beneficiaries, the National Honors and Awards Act, 2001, the Public Service Standing Orders and the URA Human Resource Manual.

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