Court quashes UNRA probe findings against Baryaruha

Court quashes UNRA probe findings against Baryaruha
Marvin Baryaruha, the former legal counsel of the UNRA.

Kampala, Uganda | KAMPALA DISPATCH | Justice Musa Ssekaana has quashed the findings and recommendations of the 2015 Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) probe against Marvin Baryaruha, the former legal counsel of the Authority.

In a judgment delivered on Friday in the Civil High Court Division, Justice Ssekaana says the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into allegations of mismanagement, abuse of office and corrupt practices in UNRA against Baryaruha are null and void.

“The statements made by the Chairperson of the Commission would indeed leave a fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts, that there was a real possibility that the Commission was biased,” reads Ssekaana’s verdict in part.

He says there was conflict of interest on the part of three Commission members including Engineer Patrick Rusongoza Kusemererwa, Abraham Nkata and Richard Ivan Nangalama Mungati.

The trio had previously worked with UNRA in different capacities but denied being influenced in any way by their previous dealings with the Authority.

In 2015, the UNRA Probe led by Justice Catherine Bamugemerire found Baryaruha guilty of negligent of duties during the procurement of the Consultant for the resettlement plan, acquisition of land and titling for Hoima-Kaiso-Tonya Road.

The report recommended the prosecution of Baryaruha on account of variation of land prices on the Mbarara-Kikagate Road Project and the 2012 Lake Kyoga ferry saga.

The Commission also accused Baryaruha of wrongly advising the contracts committee on the price adjustment clause on the Kamuli–Jinja Road, which amounted to abuse of office and financial loss.

In 2016, Baryaruha petitioned the High Court Civil Division seeking orders to declare the findings and recommendations illegal citing bias on the part of the Commission members particularly the Chairperson, Justice Bamugemereire.

Baryaruha also argued that he was not afforded a fair hearing by the Commission to respond to the numerous allegations raised against him, adding that in several instances the recommendations and findings were made without obtaining his side of the story.

In General, Baryaruha accused the Commission of making findings and recommendations without any substantive legal evidence. In August 2018, the Anti-Corruption Court Justice Lawrence Gidudu acquitted Baryaruha of causing the financial loss of Shillings 24.7 billion meant for Mukono- Katosi road.

He was jointly acquitted with Abraham Byandala, the former Works and Transport Minister and former UNRA Acting Executive Director, Engineer Berunado Sebugga Kimeze.

Their co accused including UNRA Director of Finance And Administration, Joe Semugooma, his junior Wilberforce Senjako, and businessman, Apollo Senkeeto alias Mark Kalyesubula were sentenced to five and ten years in jail respectively for theft.