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MPs can’t question me without IGP approval, Bagyenda’s aide tells Cosase

“According to Police Standing Orders, I am not supposed to appear before any committee or court without the authorisation of the Inspector General of Police,” Adikot, who had been asked to take oath before responding to queries, told the committee, leaving members wondering whether she was being arrogant or just naive.

BANK PROBE | Legislators on the parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) last week felt that Justine Bagyenda was rude and condescending when appearing to answer queries but the naivety of her aide left them with more headache for the day.

Appearing before Cosase on Wednesday to respond to queries on the role she played when Bagyenda allegedly made off with Bank of Uganda documents, Juliet Adikot insisted that Parliament has no powers to summon her.

“According to Police Standing Orders, I am not supposed to appear before any committee or court without the authorisation of the Inspector General of Police,” Adikot, who had been asked to take oath before responding to queries, told the committee, leaving members wondering whether she was being arrogant or just naive.

Cosase chair Abdu Katuntu explained to Adikot why the committee summoned her, saying she will have to tell Parliament why she bypassed Bank of Uganda security system while carrying out documents and if she knew the contents of the bags she carried out.

“You were captured on CCTV camera carrying bags which didn’t go through the security system and a team of MPs went and viewed the CCTV footage so we are going to have a conversation with you,” Katuntu said.

“There is only one law that is in this country which is superior, that is the Constitution. Your [Police] standing orders are subject to the Constitution. I refer you to Article 90, your standing orders are inferior, if anybody ever charges you, this committee takes full responsibility.”

Katuntu told Ariokot never to use Police Standing Orders to escape from her responsibility of “stealing items” from the central bank.

“The actions of you carrying the bags were personal, the person seen carrying those bags is you, not Bagyenda. You are going to tell us what you carried, why you bypassed the security system. We want to know what luggage you carried, you don’t need permission from Bagyenda, you are going to take full responsibility of what you carried out of the bank,” Katuntu said.

MPs view CCTV footage

The select committee on Wednesday submitted a preliminary report after looking into the circumstance under which Bagyenda allegedly sneaked out with crucial bank documents in bags.

While briefing Cosase, Takirwa said Bank of Uganda’s CCTV cameras showed that the bags were sealed, making it was impossible for the team to establish the nature of contents inside.

One of the bags, a polyethylene blue in colour, was used to ferry items outside.

“The people at checkpoint couldn’t know because these items didn’t pass through the scanner,” Takirwa said.

Bagyenda, a former executive director in charge of supervision, was forced to resign from the central bank in February amid scandals involving the controversial liquidation of Crane Bank and subsequent sale of its assets and liabilities to dfcu Bank.

Cosase is investigating the circumstance under which seven commercial banks were liquidated over the last 25 years but Bagyenda, who was under summons, left the country on short notice, leaving the legislators with lower rank officials with ties to her to grill.

After getting the report from the select committee, Katuntu announced that Bank of Uganda officials, including security assistants Charles Omoro and Beatrice Kyambadde, as well as Bagyenda’s bodyguard Job Turyahebwa and her aide Juliet Adikot will be questioned behind closed doors.

Katuntu defended the decision to have a closed-door session by Cosase’s select committee, saying Parliament runs a risk of exposing Bank of Uganda’s sensitive security system to outsiders who might exploit it in future.

Milton Orech Opio, the head of security at Bank of Uganda, said they learnt that Bagyenda had sneaked out documents after almost after a month.

“When we got information that bags were taken out, that is when we got the idea of securing a search warrant. We had to apply to Police and got search warrant but we didn’t implement it because we saw bags being returned and thought it wasn’t wise to go ahead with the search,” he said.

Information before Cosase so far indicates that the items alleged moved from the central bank were sneaked out on February 10 at around 4pm and returned on March 14 at 6:24pm when Bagyenda entered office and left around 6:50pm.

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