Assessors ask court to set city lawyer Kasango free in Shs15bn pension fraud
COURT | Two court assessors on Wednesday advised the Anti-Corruption Court to dismiss charges of stealing pension cash amounting to Shs15.4 billion leveled against city lawyer Bob Kasango.
Kasango is jointly accused with three former officials of the Ministry of Public Service; Jimmy Lwamafa, (former permanent secretary), Christopher Obey (former principal accountant) and Kiwanuka (former director of research and development).
The officials are currently serving various sentences having been convicted in 2016 by Justice Lawrence Gidudu of having hand in stealing Shs88bn meant for pensioners.
On Wednesday, Nelson Kamiza and his co-assessor Flavia Kisakye advised Justice Margaret Tibulya that after the trial which last for two years and in which the prosecution has presented 20 witnesses, the state has failed miserably to prove charges ranging from diversion of public funds, theft, forging court documents and conspiracy to defraud.
Though Kasango is accused of stealing Shs15.4 billion meant for 6,339 pensioners, the assessors said that they believed evidence of Geoffrey Senoga, one of the claimants, who testified that “70% of the pensioners received their money.”
During the hearing, Kasango was pinned by fellow lawyer John Matovu, who accused him of stealing a huge chuck of costs that court had awarded him since he represented the pensioners.
Before Justice Musoke Kibuuka, who has since retired, Matovu testified before court how he hired Kasango to get his costs since he was told that his connections with Uganda’s biggest opposition party FDC were going to hinder him from getting the money.
Matovu said that he was advised within the legal circles that Kasango , who is either NRM leaning or a centrist, was best placed to quickly get him his costs and thus he moved to get his services.
However, assessors found discrepancies in Matovu’s evidence.
Matovu, the assessors have said, admitted during his testimony receiving Shs1.3 billion from Kasango. This amount, they said is much more that what Matovu had agreed in principle to receive from Kasango as costs.
“Surely if Kasango is charged with theft, then John Matovu, Emmanuel Kakenga and the claimants who benefited from Shs15 billion as Kasango explained its expenditure, would all have been charged with the same offence of theft.”
The assessors who are ordinary folks and their opinion isn’t binding to the judge opined.
Kasango is also battling the charge of forging a judicial document.
Prosecution claimed that when Matovu gave Kasango instructions to pursue his costs, the taxation process which is a must and was to be before then High Court deputy registrar John Eudes Keitirima [now a High court judge], never happened.
However, somehow, Kasango presented a document showing how he was supposed to get costs of two lawyers in legal terms referred to as “certificate of two counsel” which was contrary to Justice Kibuuka’s judgment.
Justice Kibuuka therein had ordered that only one lawyer [Matovu] was to get costs.
Kasango’s move ensured that the costs were inflated and abnormal, the prosecution argued.
The assessors again didn’t believe the prosecution since according them the said documents “have since then to date never been expunged from the said court record” as Elias Kisawuzi one of the prosecution witnesses said and consequently the assessors contend that they remain valid.
Having heard the joint opinion, Justice Tibulya adjourned the case to December, 21, 2018 to deliver the judgment.