Lawyers disagree on Shs6bn handshake refund

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The debate on whether 42 government officials implicated in the Shs6bn presidential award saga should return the money or not, still continues.

Parliament overwhelmingly approved recommendations from its Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises requiring the 42 public officials to refund the Shs6 billion shared out for winning the oil tax arbitration case in London.

This was one of the nine recommendations made by the Committee on COSASE, chaired by Hon. Abdu Katuntu (FDC, Bugweri), following months of investigations into the reward by the President.

Lina Zedriga Waru Abuku, a lawyer and an expert in “women, peace, and security” and city lawyer, Julius Galisonga, disagreed Tuesday on whether it was right or wrong for the officials to be rewarded.

Galisonga says any office that registers increase and achievement will have an allowance for its top performing team.

Victoria University

“It is on these grounds therefore that 6billion money was given to URA. However this reward rose out of a forbidden tree,” he said while appearing on NBS television.

Abuku, on the other hand, blames the officials themselves for accepting the said money.

“If I were among the people scheduled to receive the 6bn handshake, I would have refused it loudly,” Abiku noted.

Galisonga, however, insisted [people are looking for the opportunity cost for individuals visa vie the country.

“People are following up on the Shs6bn handshake report because they want to make government accountable.”

In January this year, the Speaker asked the Committee on COSASE to investigate claims that the public officers solicited for a payment, honorarium, bonus or golden handshake totalling to UShs 6b contrary to standard practices of rewarding public officers.

The Committee was also asked to investigate the basis of determination of the beneficiaries to the bonus payment including the full account of the role of each beneficiary in the court cases.

During their investigations, beneficiaries denied soliciting for the reward and told the Committee that it is common practice both in public and private sector governance to reward individuals for excellence.

Beneficiaries of the reward included Hon. Fred Ruhindi, who was Deputy Attorney General; Fred Kabagambe Kaliisa, who was Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development; Mrs. Allen Kagina, Commissioner General, URA; Mrs. Doris Akol, Commissioner Board Affairs and Rulings, URA; Mrs. Jennifer Musisi, who was Commissioner Legal Services and Board Affairs, URA.

Others included: Ms. Harriet Lwabi, who was the Ag. Solicitor General; Mr. Christopher Gashirabake, the Director Legal Advisory Services in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs; Hon. Peter Nyombi, who was the Attorney General and head of the Uganda government Legal and Technical Team.

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