The Deputy Attorney General, was not professionally and psychologically prepared when he appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into Land matters, watchdoguganda has learnt.
On Wednesday, Mwesigwa Rukutana appeared before the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led Commission to provide clarity how Government arrived at Shs24billion meant to compensate Dr Muhammad Kasasa over Mutungo land.
However, he was thrown out for allegedly ‘disrespecting the commission as well as giving wrong legal opinion in the media, well knowing that the facts as he claimed, are not corroborated with what the Commission has unearthed through various testimonies from complainants and locus in quo visits to the land under contention.
Rukutana told Bamugemereire; “Look my position is very clear. As long as I am respected, I will be respectful. If I am not respected I will not respect anybody,” before adding that ‘she can report me to God, I don’t give a damn.’
However, the commission released a statement saying they had hoped Rukutana would shed light on the above issues concerning the methods by which he conducted due diligence to establish the integrity of Dr Kasasa’s claim before committing the Government to the obligation to compensate him.
“The Commission expected that, at the very least, he would refer it to people who could explain where he could not. When questions were put to the Deputy Attorney General, he was openly hostile, combative, disrespectful and condescending towards the Commission. His conduct was provocative and would not facilitate constructive inquiry into the matters. This was of great concern to the Commission,” a statement released on Thursday reads in part.
PRESS BRIEF ON THE APPEARANCE OF THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL BEFORE THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO THE EFFECTIVENESS OF LAW, POLICIES AND PROCESSES OF LAND ACQUISITION, LAND ADMINISTRATION, LAND MANAGEMENT AND LAND REGISTRATION IN UGANDA
On 5th February, 2019, the Learned Deputy Attorney General Hon Mwesigwa Rukutaana appeared before the Commission. He pleaded having been given insufficient notice to testify about the matters under investigation namely, the Shs24.6 billion compensation to Dr Mohammed Kasasa, for land taken over by the External Security Organisation (ESO) at Mutungo Hill.
The Learned Deputy General requested for more time to put together all pertinent evidence. The Commission granted him 15 days. He was to obtain all the necessary documents, correspondences and advice upon which he relied to issue a Legal Opinion in support of the Shs24.6 billion compensation to Dr Kasasa.
This is by far the widest matter within the mandate of the Commission cutting across almost all the TORs but specifically encompassing TORs 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
The Shs24.6 billion claim, under investigation before the Commission, is solely derived from interest computed on a belated but already-fully-paid amount of Shs2.4bn at an undefined bank rate. Information received suggests that the Shs2.4bn amount was already paid, by the Government, in various installments.
The Commission, therefore, sought to understand the method by which the interest was arrived at and whether learned Attorney General had undertaken due diligence, verified and subsequently endorsed the current claim of Shs24.6bn. The claim is a matter of a wide dispute which involves the alleged sale of 640 acres originally registered as the private property of the late Sir Edward David Walugembe Mutebi Luwangula Muteesa. 12 acres, of this land, were taken by the External Security Organisation.
Relatedly, the Commission also sought to understand why the Learned Deputy Learned Attorney General had deemed it fit to enter a fresh agreement, in December, 2017, in respect of Dr Kasasa thereby committing the Government to an obligation to pay Shs24.6bn purely derived from claims of interest which in turn also attract interest. Another matter for clarification concerned the disregard of the Auditor General’s qualification of the Dr Kasasa compensation noting that it was misconceived and was ratified in a matter contrary to due process. During his appearance before the Commission, the Learned Deputy Attorney General roundly dismissed the Auditor General’s opinion.
The learned Deputy Attorney General returned to the Commission on February 20, 2019. The hearing commenced at 10.00 am with the Lead Counsel putting questions to the Deputy Attorney General which, from the outset, he answered in a flippant, reckless and disrespectful manner.
The signing of an agreement entered in December 2017 by the Learned Deputy Attorney General on behalf of the Government and the authoring, again by the same Learned Deputy Attorney General, of an opinion of December, 2018 have the net effect of expediting the compensation of Shs24.6bn despite the Commission’s ongoing investigation. It should be noted that it appears that the Learned Deputy Attorney General issued an opinion in utter disregard of an Interim Court Order issued by the High Court. There have been allegations that the compensation figure at stake was inflated and arrived at irregularly or even fraudulently.
The Commission had hoped that the learned Deputy Attorney General would shed light on the above issues concerning the methods by which he conducted due diligence to establish the integrity of Dr Kasasa’s claim before committing the Government to the obligation to compensate him. The Commission expected that, at the very least, he would refer it to people who could explain where he could not.
When questions were put to the Deputy Attorney General, he was openly hostile, combative, disrespectful and condescending towards the Commission. His conduct was provocative and would not facilitate constructive inquiry into the matters. This was of great concern to the Commission.
The Commission considered that the learned Deputy Attorney was not professionally and psychologically prepared to facilitate the Commission in its investigation. Given his open, antagonistic disregard of the Commission’s mandate, the Commission referred this matter back to the Appointing Authority to find another way of verifying, investigating and probing the Shs24.6bn compensation
The Commission will continue to conduct its proceedings through an inquisitorial approach to the facts as presented.