Katosi: Lawyer Ssemwogerere Presents Passports to MPs

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In short
In his June 2015 report, Auditor General John Muwanga noted that whereas UNRA signed the Mukono-Katosi Road contract with Eutaw on November 15th 2013, Ssemwogerere was hired to carry out due diligence on July 2014.

Ugandan lawyer Karoli Ssemwogerere today presented his two passports to parliament's committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises-COSASE.
 
The committee demanded for the passports on Wednesday to facilitate the ongoing investigations into the Mukono-Katosi road fraud.
  
Ssemwogerere, a son of veteran politician Paul Kawanga Ssemwogerere, was contracted by Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to carry out due diligence on Eutaw Construction Company Incorporation in USA.
 
In his June 2015 report, Auditor General John Muwanga noted that whereas UNRA signed the Mukono-Katosi Road contract with Eutaw on November 15th 2013, Ssemwogerere was hired to carry out due diligence on July 2014.
 
He said the decision to hire Ssemwogerere contravened public procurement law that requires due diligence to be undertaken before the contract is signed.
 
Muwanga also noted that by the time of compiling the audit report, Ssemwogerere was yet to hand over his report to UNRA, adding that there was no evidence showing that the lawyer indeed travelled to USA.
 
Evidence before the Committee indicates that Ssemwogerere received 22,000 US Dollars for his contract.  He received an additional 6,000 Dollars to cater for his air ticket and another 4,000 dollars for his in land travel.
 
However, while appearing before the committee chaired by Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu, Ssemwogerere said he had traveled to USA and on return addressed reports to UNRA with the first being a very brief summary of what transpired during his trip.
 
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On whether UNRA had received the report from Ssemwogerere, Ssebuga Kimeze the former UNRA executive director under whose management Ssemwogerere was contracted, said that two weeks after Ssemwogere's departure, he was removed from office.
 
When asked, James Okiror a former UNRA acting executive director who replaced Kimeze denied knowledge of UNRA engaging with Ssemwogere. He referred to him as somebody who came to his office and said he had returned from America.
 
"I had never seen him or heard of any assignment UNRA had given him and there was nothing on record that he had work with UNRA", said Okiror.


Ssemwogerere insisted that on his return, the people who had hired him had left office but availed the report to Okiror.

 
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MP Katuntu questioned why Okiror didn't pick interest in knowing what assignment Ssemwogerere had from UNRA and why he was comfortable that his information was irrelevant.
 
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UNRA Executive Director Allen Kagina also confirmed to the committee that there are records to show that Ssemwogerere had a contract with the Authority but said she had never seen a report from him on diligence.
 
Katuntu questioned why UNRA engaged Ssemwogerere and whether there were no capable people within the authority to carry out due diligence. Ssebuga Kimeze said that the then UNRA officials were found to be incapable to carry out the exercise.
 
He said that the status of Eutaw needed an independent third party to conduct an exhaustive investigation, adding that Ssemwogerere had worked with Marble Law firm which was prequalified by the Solicitor General and had the geographical knowledge of USA since he is a citizen of America.
 
Kimeze's response raised concern from MPs with Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime asking whether UNRA did not think it was economical and worthwhile to use the services of Uganda's mission in the US.
 
Anita Among, the committee Vice Chairperson wondered whether it requires one to know the geographical knowledge of USA for them to carry out a due diligence.
 
Kibaale County MP Cuthbert Mirembe also noted that it took six days for Ssemwogerere to reach USA and an additional three days for him to return to Uganda.
 
"Under what circumstances do you take all those days to travel?" asked Mirembe.
 
Ssemwogerere explained that he delayed to reach USA because there were other pressing requirements related to the travel, noting that he had reached Nairobi on a Friday and the next days were weekends.
 
He added that when he reached London, United Kingdom, he spent two days at the library of society of civil engineering saying that he had to have some things at hand. 
 
This did not go well with committee chairperson Abdu Katuntu who asked Ssemwogerere whether he had been contracted to go and read.
 
Katuntu then asked Ssemwogerere to take leave saying that his committee was going to study the documents he submitted internally and interface with him on Friday morning.

 

About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.