The Anti-corruption Court yesterday summoned Former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya over procurement of executive cars for the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kampala.
Prof. Bukenya is facing two charges of abuse of office and fraudulent practice, according to the two case files lodged before court by the Inspectorate of Government yesterday. Anti-Corruption Court Grade One Magistrate Sarah Langa issued the criminal summons against Prof. Bukenya requiring him to appear on June 16, at 9am. But Prof. Bukenya yesterday said he was ready for the “battle”.
The former Vice President is jointly charged with Motorcare (U) Ltd, the company that supplied the 204 executive vehicles. Motorcare is accused of fraudulent practice. “A1 (Bukenya) and A2 (Motorcare) are still at large. In the premises I pray for criminal summons to be issued to the duo probably on same day June 16,” said State Attorney Rogers Kinobe, who had earlier asked for the criminal summons for the first file in relation to abuse of office.
According to the charge sheet drawn by the IGG, the Shs9.4 billion Chogm car deal was awarded to Motorcare (U) Ltd under the ‘personal’ influence of Prof. Bukenya without going through proper tendering process.
The IGG adds that, Prof. Bukenya, who was chairman of the Chogm Cabinet sub-committee, between July 2006 and November 2007 unlawfully and “high-handedly in abuse of his office” influenced and directed the award of the contract for supply of 80 units of BMW police outrider motorcycles intended for use during Chogm to Motorcare (U) Ltd in total disregard of the laws, regulations and practices governing public procurement.
The charges consented to by IGG, Mr Raphael Baku, further indicate that Prof. Bukenya allegedly connived with Motorcare (U) Ltd to commit fraudulent acts in respect of the contract of supply of 80 units of BMWs intended for use during Chogm, 2007 to Motorcare (U) Ltd. But Prof. Bukenya, who yesterday told our reporter that he had learnt of the news through this newspaper’s website, said the IGG’s action has taken him by surprise but he would battle it. “I am surprised,” he said. “I got to know about it from your newspaper’s website. I am at my village home in Kakiri. It is a battle.”
Prof. Bukenya lost his position when President Museveni named his new Cabinet last week and replaced him with former Parliament Speaker Edward Ssekandi. He will be the first high-profile personality prosecuted for the scandals that engulfed the 2007 Chogm preparations, with shoddy work and inflated tenders being the highlight of the high profile event. Taxpayers lost billions of shillings as government spent about Shs500 billion on the Chogm preparations.
The tender for the supply of the cars to transport heads of state attracted controversy after it was first awarded to Spear Motors Ltd for outright purchase but later reversed and awarded to Europcar/ Motorcare (U).
The Chogm transport evaluation committee had on May 8, 2007 selected Spear Motors Ltd, but later the decision was reversed after Prof. Bukenya insisted the award be cancelled and the cars hired instead.
Prof. Bukenya reasoned that the country could not afford outright purchase but according to documents presented to the committee then, the Chogm transport evaluation committee rejected the joint bid of Europcar/Motorcare (U) Ltd because the rental option was “found to be much expensive and a waste of public funds”.
While appearing before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, Works permanent Secretary Charles Muganzi pinned down the former Vice President for influencing the award. According to records, the Chogm transport evaluation committee rejected the Europcar/Motorcare (U) Ltd bid because the rental option that the VP recommended was “found to be much expensive and a waste of public funds”.
The Europcar/Motorcare (U) rental option of Shs9.5 billion was said to be 74 per cent of the cost of cars – for which the government would rent for four days – hence the committee opted for Spear Motors Ltd for outright purchase of the cars. Spear Motors wanted to sell its cars to the government at Shs17.5 billion.