E.A: Rwanda Warns On Genocide Suspects As Calls For Bashir Arrest Mount
It's a bright morning in Kampala. These are the top stories making headlines in East Africa's leading media outlets.
Established: Cause Of Kenya Sinai Fire Tragedy
The Sinai fire tragedy in which 100 people died and 160 injured was caused by a leaking gasket costing less than Sh1,000, investigations reveal.
A leak from the pipeline, which sent rivers of super petrol flooding through storm drains into a slum, was all due to a broken gasket, reports Daily Nation.
The rivers of petrol exploded into flames, resulting in one of the worst fire disasters in the country.
According to a KPC investigation report seen by the Nation, the seal could have failed because it was poorly made, not properly installed, was subjected to more pressure than it was designed to take or somebody just fitted the wrong gasket.
A gasket is a seal used to join two or more pipes and whose job is to prevent leaks when there is high pressure in the pipeline.
On Sunday, an oil engineer conversant with the type of gasket that failed said it costs less than Sh1,000.
The report said the pressure of the fuel in the pipeline at the time of the explosion was within the range that the pipeline is designed to withstand.
The investigation showed that the failed seal was part of the newly installed Line 4 and it failed at pressures way below what it is supposed to withstand.
“It is not exactly clear why the gasket failed under the prevailing conditions, which were within normal operating characteristics of the system,” it adds.
The bad gasket was near a storm drain. During the accident, fuel gushed out of the pipeline and into storm drains, which carried it into a slum village and a nearby river.
By design, the system is supposed to contain leaks, not direct them to the municipal drains. The lead into the storm drain was accidental and not by design, the report said.
KPC lost more than Sh103 million in the incident, including the value of the fuel spilt, transportation of the spilt product, cost of environmental reinstatement, lost business opportunity, fire extinguishing foam, lost man hours and media expenses.
The findings are likely to trigger compensation suits from victims of the fire incident. Mars Group Kenya on Sunday called for the compensation of the victims.
“There is circumstantial evidence of gross corporate negligence and even reckless endangerment.
“A class action lawsuit against the Kenya Pipeline Company for the corporate manslaughter of 120 Kenyans on 12 September 2011 is warranted, in our humble opinion,” the watchdog group said in a statement.
Mbabazi, Nzei Sued By Their Dubai Partners
They accuse NBC management of gross misconduct and reserve the stingiest criticism for the top three major shareholders, Mbabazi, Nzei and Rugunda, reports The Observer.
When investors from the United Arab Emirates wired just over $5 million from their account in Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank to prominent businessman Amos Nzei's accounts in the same bank and in Uganda, between May 2008 and March 2011, they thought their venture to acquire National Bank of Commerce (NBC) in Kampala was on track.
More than eight months after the last installment hit Nzei's account, the investors, M/S International Investments House, are crying foul; Nzei, one of NBCís majority shareholders, is yet to meet his part of the bargain.
The investors have now gone to the High Court, suing Nzei, together with Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and ICT Minister Ruhakana, who are the other two majority shareholders in the bank. One of the documents The Observer has seen points to International Investment House depositing $435,000 on Mbabazi's account in Tropical bank on May 15, 2008 as part-payment for his shares in NBC. Around the same time, Nzei also received his share, which was also deposited in Tropical bank.
Now International Investment House want to recover their money. On February 27, 2012, they instructed their lawyers, Shonubi, Musoke and Company Advocates to "institute as may be instructed by us civil proceedings against Amos Nzei, Ruhakana Rugunda, the National Bank of Commerce and or all the sellers in respect of our claims arising out of the transaction pursuant to which we acquired 76% of the shares in the issued and paid-up capital of National Bank of Commerce U Ltd."
Last Thursday, March 15, International Investment House, through their subsidiary Emirates Africa Link for Strategic Alliance, made good on their threat as they filed a case in the High Court. They say they first bought 48% of the shares in NBC for $6 million.
They then put in more capital of $3m and further payments made to third parties on behalf of the bank amounting to $920,000 (as per the agreement between buyers and sellers, to be recognised as capital of the bank). This brought the total to $9.97 million. They want all this money back.
This is a story of double-crossing - a continuation of another controversy with Mbabazi in the thick of things - and a struggle to take over the reins of a bank, whose performance and customer service is so bad, a mystery shopper survey sanctioned by some of the shareholders once found "a chicken walking around" the banking hall.
Some of the bank's documents The Observer has seen show that a sum of Shs 7bn that went out as loans, with some of the beneficiaries as shareholders, was recently declared by a board meeting as nonperforming assets to be written off.
One of the beneficiaries was Nzei through Akright Projects Ltd, which received Shs 1.5bn in 2010 plus Shs 55m extended to his Kabale-based Hot Loaf Bakery.
Matthew Rukikaire, the bank's board chairman, received Shs 127m. Other beneficiaries were: Mulenga and Company Ltd (Shs 997m), Rev Ezra Bikangiso (Shs 280m), Kabale Institute of Health Sciences (Shs 150m) and Bunyonyi Overland Resort Limited (Shs 104m).
International Investment House, in a series of letters to Bank of Uganda (BoU), accuse the current NBC management of gross misconduct and reserve the stingiest criticism for the top three major shareholders, Mbabazi, Nzei and Rugunda.
In a December 6, 2011 letter to BoU, International Investment House writes: "All effort to clean its [NBC's] portfolio, restructure it and steer it to the right direction to make it qualify to be a rated bank and make it investable and attract more investors to come on board, was hindered and blocked by the MD [Mohammed Wahra], the board and related parties to them...Now it is clearly evidential that the intentions were bad from the beginning and well planned to keep the controlling shares [51%] in the seller's group hands and hijack the project after value creation and strip the capital, which we injected, to their own benefits."
The investors also take issue with Mohammed Wahra, NBCís managing director. Wahra is accused of all sorts of things, including paying himself a hefty salary, interfering with board decisions and mistreating staff, among others. What is not clear from all the documents The Observer has seen is whether he is directly involved in facilitating Nzei, Mbabazi and Rugunda to have a firm grip on the bank.
A letter from International Investment House to Bank of Uganda, dated October 20, 2011, notes: "We are simply suffering from an MD who is making big confusions and some board members who are non-bankers trying to operate a bank, and some others who are more occupied in consuming this public company's [NBC] resources and capital to their benefit... Unfortunately, we were unable to move the issues forward with the current management and board that is steered and controlled by some of the sellers."
Govt To Release Findings On Kasubi, Kibwetere Tragedies
In less than 14 days, the public might get to know the cause of the mysterious fires that razed the Kasubi tombs, as well as the infamous Kanungu cult massacre - both of which incidents shocked Ugandans to the core.
Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi informed Parliament on Friday that government will produce comprehensive reports from investigations into the two mysterious fires, reports The Observer.
"I will ask the ministry of Internal Affairs to prepare the reports, so we shall take on the task of bringing comprehensive findings," Mbabazi said.
His pledge followed queries by Latif Ssebaggala (Kawempe South) and Ken Lukyamuzi (Rubaga South) as to why the government was not releasing the findings from the two investigations.
"We seek to know from the executive; when will the Kasubi tombs probe report come out? We're eager to receive its conclusions," Ssebaggala said.
Lukyamuzi posed the same question for the findings about the mass killing of about 1,000 members of a cult in present-day Kanungu district, in March 2000.
"These two reports will be here. I promise that all of you will be answered in the next two weeks," Mbabazi told the House.
It is two years since Kasubi tombs, the ancestral mausoleum for four former kings of Buganda (Mutesa I, Mwanga II, Daudi Chwa and Sir Edward Mutesa II), were razed in a mysterious fire. On July 28, 2010, the government appointed a six-member team headed by Justice Stephen George Engwau of the Court of Appeal to investigate the cause of the inferno.
Security Minister In Land Grabbing Scandal
The accusation. Minister Muruli-Mukasa bought the public land at Shs650 per acre. He allegedly forcibly evicted people after selling them the land at Shs250,000 per acre.
At least 140 families in Kyangwali Sub-county, Hoima District, have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, accusing the Security Minister of illegally evicting them from their land after he sold it to them.
The petitioners also say Minister Muruli-Mukasa is using the army to destroy their property in an attempt to scare the settlers off the land, reveals Daily Monitor.
The matter is currently before Masindi District courts.
But in a nine-page petition, the petitioners, led by the Kyangwali chairperson, Mr Omuhereza Rwemera Mazirane told the Speaker Ms Rebecca Kadaga last week that Mr Muruli Mukasa sold them the land through his company Nguse Ranchers Limited.
The petitioners are from Nyamisiga, Mandwiga, Kasozi, Karongo and Lutuza villages.
They say in 2006, the security minister allegedly sold land at Shs250,000. However, few years later, the minister told the people who had bought the land to vacate ‘his’ land, saying they are illegal settlers.
“When we resisted, he used the UPDF commander from Kasonga Military Barracks who gave him soldiers to supervise hundreds of cattle destroying our crops, and when we fled for dear lives, more than 100 grass-thatched houses were burnt,” the petition reads.
In May 11, 2011, the Director of Land Matters, Ms Gertrude Njuba, wrote to the army commander requesting him to investigate the involvement of the UPDF in the matter and since then, the petitioners say, the army unit which was terrorising people was moved away.
But according to the petitioners, the security minister has allegedly continued to take soldiers to the area and let his cattle destroy people’s gardens. They said the soldiers beat people and destroy their property.
South Sudan: Civil Society Groups Call For Arrest Of Sudanese President Bashir
A coalition of major civil society organisations in South Sudan on Saturday rejected the position of the Juba government that it has no obligation to arrest Sudanese president Omer el Bashir, when he attends an upcoming summit in the country’s capital Juba.
The meeting between Bashir and his counterpart Salva Kiir is intended to make progress in the ongoing talks between Sudan and South Sudan on a raft of issues that are yet to be resolved after the secession of South Sudan last year, reports Sudan Tribune.
The civil society groups argue that South Sudan can arrest Bashir under Article 86 of the Rome Statute because the case against him - Bashir is accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Sudan’s western Darfur region - was referred to the International Criminal Court by the United Nations Security Council. As South Sudan became the UN’s 193rd state after seceding from Sudan in July last year it has the right to arrest Bashir, the activists say.
This comes following a pronouncement in which South Sudan’s chief negotiator, Pagan Amum, on Wednesday said his country “has no an obligation to arrest” Sudanese president Bashir, if he comes to Juba as part of the “framework agreement”, which the two parties last week signed in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, because they are not members of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
But Jok Alier Jok, a member of the country’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement said during an interview with Sudan Tribune on Saturday that he personally “does not approve” of allowing president Bashir come to Juba because his visit has a lot of “implications” attached to it.
“I do not support the visit of the Sudanese president Bashir because of obvious reasons, one of which is that we should not play with the international justice although it will complicate things including triggering return to war but which is painful than comprising universal justice . The only thing which the leadership can do is to hold the summit elsewhere in the republic of South Sudan”, said Jok.
The official proposed that one of the alternatives is to schedule a meeting between the two leaders outside South Sudan, possibly in Khartoum. There were reports last week that Bashir and Kiir might meet in Ethiopia, not South Sudan.
The talks over the outstanding issues between the two countries are deadlocked as the African mediators lost hope of achieving progress with the two teams negotiating in Addis Ababa.
Sudan said last week that its ready to show some flexibility and reconsider its demand for $36 per barrel, but it blames Juba for refusing any compromise.
South Sudan is expected to offer Sudan $2 a barrel, when the two leaders meet, Alex de Waal, who has been working with the African Union mediating between the two sides, said in London on Tuesday.
Jok further argued that holding a summit which would be attended by president Bashir or any of those indicted by the ICC would portray South Sudan as a nation that does not abide by the requirements of international justice.
Dong Samuel Luak, Secretary of South Sudan Law Society (SSLS) accused Bashir of being the source of instability in Sudan and South Sudan and that getting him to The Hague would be a way to bring peace to both countries.
“South Sudan has been a victim of war crimes and crimes against humanity including ethnic cleansing, all of which were masterminded and perpetuated by various leaders in Khartoum but el Bashir shoulders the lion’s share of these crimes”, he said.
Workers House suicide woman was job-frustrated
The young woman who plunged to her horrific end from the Workers House building Friday morning was frustrated by futile job applications, her family has revealed.
Justine Nalugya, aged 26 was a 2007-graduate of Makerere University and spent her final five years (after leaving university) looking for employment, but with no success. There is impression that her frustration must have had the better of her and she decided to end her own life.
According to New Vision, her relatives suspect she was ‘disgusted with life’, which might have inspired her desperate suicide mission.
Nalugya dipped to her demise from the 14th floor of one of Kampala’s tallest buildings at about 11.15am and died instantly. Gloom instantly engulfed the area with workers and visitors within the building looked on as Nalugya’s lifeless body lay on the floor, head, torso and brain shattered.
One eyewitness said she saw the young woman prepare to jump. “She looked down as if she was waiting for someone to come up, then she threw down her bag and shoes then later, herself, head-first.”
Workers House security personnel said Nalugya first ascended to the 13th floor asking for a Wasswa but they told her they did not have such a person. She then went to the next floor, signed her personal details in the registry and was given a visitor’s card, but she instead went and stood near the balcony.
A few moments later, she was lying on the first floor, dead.
There was a big bang. Stunned workers and visitors a few feet away from the point of deathly impact screamed upon seeing the body of the then unidentified person lying on the floor. They could not tell whether it was a suicide mission or accidental.
Security operatives struggled to restrain a stream of shocked onlookers and outsiders who fought to have a glimpse of the dead woman.
Police checked her small black bag and found her identity card and other documents that indicated that she was a resident of Kamuli Zone in Kireka, Kira town council.
Her relatives later were able to identify her body from Bukedde TV and reported to the police. The body had been taken to City Mortuary in Kampala from where the deceased’s relatives picked it and organized for her burial at Luteete in Luwero district.
Extradite Genocide Suspects Or Drop Investigations – Ngoga
Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, has told western countries, including the United States and France, to either extradite Genocide fugitives or stop creating an impression that they are investigating them and instead “keep them as their citizens”.
Martin Ngoga Ngoga was reacting to last week’s decision by Chief United States District Judge Steven McAuliffe to declare a mistrial in the case of Beatrice Munyenyezi after jurors told him they were at an impasse following nearly 19 hours of deliberations.
Munyenyezi, 42, was accused of lying about her involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi when applying for American citizenship. She went on trial in a New Hampshire federal court.
Munyenyezi is the wife of Arsene Shalom Ntahobari, a former militia leader, who, together with his mother, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, were convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). They were sentenced to life in prison.
Judge McAuliffe instructed the jury to try to reach a unanimous verdict but they deadlocked. Jurors sent out a note saying they could not reach unanimous verdicts. “You have not failed your duty as jurors,” Judge McAuliffe told them. “Sometimes no decision is the right decision.”
David Ruoff, one of Munyenyezi’s lawyers, said he expects the US Government will attempt to prosecute her again.
“We don’t know what the next step will be. We are reaching out to the Americans for clarification. The whole thing is very disappointing,” Ngoga told The New Times.
According to Ngoga, “some of these western jurisdictions can’t just understand the gravity of cases before them. They handle these cases in a very simplistic way. We have, in the past, applauded trials abroad because we thought they would substitute extradition.
“But this isn’t happening; some countries have abused this process.”
Ngoga added that some cases have been dropped, citing lack of budget, while others have sent “countless” investigative delegations to Rwanda without results.
“We are going to re-assess this situation and ask them to come clear on whether they are serious. We have 20 fugitives in France who have been arrested and released without trial yet their investigators have been here more than 35 times,” said Ngonga.
France has so far refused to extradite Sosthene Munyemana, nicknamed “the Butcher of Tumba”, and Dr Eugene Rwamucyo, suspected of involvement in the Genocide in Butare. Agathe Kanziga, widow of former President Juvenal Habyarimana, also continues to reside in France, albeit illegally.
“While it is important for them to come here and investigate, we can’t imagine the necessity of coming here 35 times by the same people who claim they have no budget.
“That is what we have been going through,” explained Ngoga.
“We have got to denounce the handling of Genocide cases in such a demeaning manner. It is no longer time for us to beg for action, they either bring Genocide suspects to justice or keep them as their citizens. The choice can’t be ambiguous.”
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Updated on 2013-06-04 10:39
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