Lawmakers on the Public Accounts Committee gave grilled the former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Kagole Kivumbi over a Shs343 million payment to the Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe and Deputy Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny Dollo meant for foreign travels in the financial year 2018/2019.
The Committee chaired by Hon. Nandala Mafabi was Wednesday, 04 March 2020 considering the Auditor General’s Report for the financial year 2018/2019.
In the Report, the Auditor General said that Kivumbi, the accounting officer, paid out the money to the Chief Justice, his Deputy and a team believed to have travelled with them for three different trips both in and out of the country but during the same period.
Mafabi accused Kivumbi of using the positions and names of the three top judges for fraudulent acts they were not aware of.
Quoting the Report, Mafabi said that on 25 and the 28 June 2018, Kivumbi withdrew Shs50 million and Shs32.2 million respectively for the Chief Justice to travel to Australia, and another Shs29.8 million on 29 June 2018 to travel to South Africa.
“In four days, how do you draw money for activities that are overlapping within the same time frame; how did the Chief Justice wind up in the same places at the same time?” Mafabi asked.
Okin P. P. Ojara (Indep., Chua West) said that the audit report was a qualified opinion of the Auditor General stating that his [Kivumbi] record was not the best.
Hon. Alex Byarugaba (NRM, Isingiro County South) said that another Shs275 million was paid out to cater for the travel to Australia from 28 June to 14 September 2018.
Kivumbi, however, said that it was unfair for the members to castigate him on an issue that was being investigated by the Inspectorate of Government and whose facts have been distorted.
“I was requested in writing by the Chief Justice to pay out the aforementioned money for them to travel and I did as they wished; money was paid to the officers through Stanbic Bank for them to travel,” he said.
He denied accusations of fraud and said that the documents before the Committee accusing him of fraud and fictitious payments were incomplete.
He insisted that the Chief Justice travelled to Australia with other judicial officers and to South Africa while the Deputy Chief Justice going upcountry.
“It is not fraud; I confirm that the Chief Justice and judicial officers travelled. I also did not receive any of the above monies as might be thought,” Kivumbi said adding that, “these issues are issues under investigation? It isn’t me who received the money but the activities were done”.