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Oil Bonanza: Solicitor General Atoke’s Extraordinary Work was Perusing Documents

Solicitor General, Francis Atoke takes oath before facing the committee
Solicitor General, Francis Atoke takes oath before facing the committee

    By: Nixon Segawa

  • Feb 17,2017
  • 513 Viewed

As the committee on Commissions, Statutory Authority and State Enterprises (COSASE) continues to investigate the different roles played by beneficiaries of the presidential hand shake, the Solicitor General, Francis Atoke has revealed that his extraordinary role was to peruse through documents.

The Solicitor General told the committee on Wednesday that had he not participated and his team in the oil arbitration case, the country would have lost the case.

“As a Solicitor General I was the lead council of the Ugandan team, I did research, which we all did as a team; we would convene meetings and discuss the pros and cons,” Atoke said.

Atoke added, “I perused Heritage statement of claim, identifying the issues at hand. I prepared, reviewed and perused through government statements of defense. I prepared grounds for objections of the tribunal to hear the tax disputes.”

“I prepared grounds to support the application for the preliminary objection. I prepared government memorials on jurisdictions, counter claim on jurisdiction, rejoinder.”

“I perused Heritage’s amendments to the arbitration, their memorial on merit and government counter claim on merit.”

“I was involved in document production, the negotiation model type and arbitration meetings and perusing the IMF reports which was a very big issue in the main stage.”

But Katuntu the committee chairman brought to his knowledge that all the roles he outlined were part of his duties as Solicitor General.

“We participated because it was our work and we did extraordinary work because I don’t remember anytime in London that I went to bed before 3:00am trying to do research, ” Atoke responded.

“I did the work beyond the right time the standing orders were for us to do our work within 8 hours but we did this extraordinary work and brought USD434M in government coffers.”

Katuntu however reminded Atoke that he is paid to defend the interest of Ugandans.

The Committee will soon go to London to meet the external lawyers who were paid $10M after officials from the Attorney Generals chambers revealed that they did most of the work.

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  • Dembula

    Hmm. Research until 3 am. Assuming that Atoke is being totally honest, it belies the question of why external lawyers were retained and paid a substantial sum of money. What I find curiously absent in Atoke’s evidence is how many hours he says he spent on the case. It would help us know what sort of hourly rate he is claiming to be entitled to charge. Incidentally these have to be the hours in excess of the 8 hours that he is ordinarily paid for. It would also give an indication of whether he was able to undertake his other statutory duties for which he is paid as Solicitor General and if not whether the person who covered for him should be paid pro rata for doing Atoke’s designated job. Finally am no expert on Ugandan laws in respect of contingency fee agreements. However what Atoke is asserting seems suspiciously to me like a contingency fee agreement by the back door. These are not enforceable in certain jurisdictions including England & Wales insofar as they relate to contentious matters or simply put litigation. This might be something committee needs to consider as it could be another nail in the proverbial coffin of the alleged legality of the payment.

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