KAMPALA – The embattled interdicted Lands Commissioner Sarah Kulata Basangwa is to face immediate prosecution on abuse of office after the Supreme Court upholding the same decision of the lower court.
Ms Kulata had sought to halt criminal proceedings instituted against her before the Anti-corruption court but she lost at the Court of appeal and even now at the Supreme Court.
In a unanimous decision of five justices read Deputy Registrar Godfrey Angualia Opefeni; the justices have resolved that they have found no reason to depart from the decision of the court of appeal which ordered for the immediate prosecution of Kulata on offences of abuse of office.
“We find no reason to depart from the reasoning of the Justices of Court of Appeal. Section 19 (1)(c) only forbids the Inspector General of Government (IGG)from questioning or reviewing a matter in the civil court and in this case, the IGG was not in any way reviewing or questioning the said civil matter,” deputy registrar Godfrey Angualia Opefeni read out on behalf of the justices.
The justices added that they are in agreement with the court of appeal that criminal proceedings may emanate from the same facts but it does not deter prosecutors to institute criminal proceedings because the facts are similar to that case.
Ms Kulata had also faulted the Court of Appeal justices of pronouncing themselves without input of a dissenting judgment, however the five justices ruled that there was a majority decision which constituted the judgment of the court and the absence of a third justice’s signature does not invalidate the decision of the court which was taken after a hearing of the case in accordance with the constitution.
However, the justices also noted that as the head of the panel, the former Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma had the option to direct that separate judgments be given which he did not do.
In the said charges, the IGG states that between July and August 2011 at the Land Registry in Kampala, Kulata hastily and illegally registered numerous plots of land worth sh11b in the names of Kikonyogo investments who are not its illegitimate owners.
The contentious land is situated at Wakiso district belonging to Lakeside city Ltd, owned by the Damani family.
Kulata challenged this trial on grounds that the IGG overstepped her mandate and instituted criminal proceedings against her while basing on the same facts in a civil case she (Kulata) had filed, terming this as an abuse of the independence of the Judiciary.
However, justices; Stellah Arach Amoko, Rubby Opio Aweri, Eldard Mwangusya, Augustine Nshiimye and Richard Buteera have ruled that a pending civil case between parties cannot be a bar to instituting criminal proceedings as in this case the IGG does not seek to question or investigate the merits of the civil case.
In light of this ruling; a prosecutor attached to the IGG’s directorate at the Anti-corruption court Mr Rogers Kinobe says they are going to issue fresh summons to Kulata to appear and face trial.