What is in a name? Three Byandala co-accused with ‘S’ initials sent to Luzira
After the acquittal of Byandala, Mugote, Kimeze, Baryaruha, Justice Lawrence Gidudu sends Ssemugooma, Senjako and Sekeeto to Luzira Prison
COURT | In the end, it all grounded to the classic question about the enigma of a name at the Anti-Corruption Court in Kololo. Twenty-four hours after Abraham Byandala was set free by Justice Lawrence Gidudu, three of his co-accused with initial S to their name will have to spend between five and ten years behind the high-rise walls of Luzira Maximum Security Prison asking themselves, ‘What is in a name?’
Joe Ssemugooma, former acting director for finance and administration at Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), and Wilber Senjako, former UNRA regional accountant, will both serve five years in jail.
While Apolo Senkeeto, who passed off as Eutaw’s country representative, was at receiving end of Justice Gidudu’s wrath who handed him ten years in jail.
Those who escaped culpability such as Abraham Byandala (former Works minister), Marvin Baryaruha (former UNRA legal counsel) and Isaac Mugote (former Housing Finance Bank employee), will probably be thanking their parents for avoiding the initial ‘S’ while naming them as fate has decided.
Ssemugooma was found guilty of both abusing his office and neglect of duty while Senjako was found liable on only one count –neglect of duty having failed to verify Senkeeto’s forged securities. It was on the basis of these forged securities that the IGG said that UNRA based to give Eutaw an advance payment of Shs24 billion which was stolen by Senkeeto and his cohorts who were signatories on the account of this brief case company.
During the mitigation session on Wednesday, Ssemugooma and Senjako’s lawyers had beseeched justice Gidudu not to imprison their clients. They suggested that the judge should exercise leniency and simply fine the duo since they have families which will suffer tremendously, if they are to be imprisoned.
In fact, Senjako produced his father in court, saying the he is elderly and it was only the convict who was taking care of him- so his incarceration would affect him.
But Justice Gidudu wasn’t convinced and after proper scrutiny he said that aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors and consequently decided to confer custodial sentences. The duo, according to the understanding of Justice Gidudu were UNRA’s gatekeepers who have stopped the fraud in its tracks
“These two could have of stopped the scheme in its initial stages,” Justice Gidudu ruled reffering to Ssemugooma and Senjako, “But they chose to advise accused five (Senkeeto) to replace forged securities and back date bid letters such that the whole scheme succeeds. This case is before this court because of these two. ”
Senkeeto, the brain child of the scheme, carried his cross to Luzira Prison, having been adjudged to have obtained money via false pretenses, uttering false documents, theft and conspiracy to defraud but his lawyer had insisted the he doesn’t deserve to go to Luzira.
Peter Mulira, Senkeeto’s lawyer, pleaded first that his client was misled by Americans who were the owners of fake company called Eutaw Florida, a company the judge said couldn’t construct an inch of a road.
Mulira, sporting a wig, further argued that Senkeeto deserves a second chance since he has joined what he called as the “African Bible University” in the bid to become a clergy or perhaps a pastor.
In his ruling, the judge equated Senkeeto drastic change in character to that of the biblical Saul who persecuted Christians but later preached the word of Christ having changed to Paul, in the Book of Acts of the apostles.
Senkeeto’s move into evangelism didn’t move the somewhat cynical Gidudu who retorted in the ruling that indeed the businessman turned pastor needs “salvation”.
“Like Paul who after conversion to Christianity wrote most of letters to the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus, to Philemon and others while he was in prison because of his faith, so will Senkeeto continue in his Christian theology while in prison,” the judge said in a 10-page ruling in which he gave Senkeeto whose wife was looking on, 10 years in jail.