Former Works and Transport minister Abraham Byandala has been acquitted of all charges levelled against him in the infamous Mukono-Katosi road scam that cost the country up to Shs 24.7 billion in losses.
Byandala was facing 16 counts of abuse of office, disobedience of lawful orders, influence peddling, causing financial loss, corruption, theft, obtaining money by false pretense, uttering false documents and conspiracy to defraud the government.
The charges stem from an investigation for his role in the illegal award of a contract to Eutaw, a fictitious road construction company that was contracted to construct the Mukono-Katosi road.
Byandala was accused of using his office as Transport minister to influence the issuance of the contract in which, Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) awarded the Shs 165 billion project to Eutaw, before completion of the due diligence process.
A report by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) pinned Byandala for forcing Unra to sign and advance Shs 24.7 billion to the firm. It was later discovered that Eutaw did not have relations to the firm in the United States that it used as its parent company.
Today, Anti-Corruption court judge Lawrence Gidudu acquitted Byandala of the charges on grounds that the prosecution failed to furnish court with substantial evidence to prove the case. The prosecution team was from the Office of Inspector General of Government.
Gidudu dismissed the prosecution evidence, which depended on a letter that Byandala authored directing Unra to sign a contract with Eutaw. Gidudu said that in writing the letter dated November 14, 2014, Byandala was not abusing the law because he was authorized under the law to give guidance to Unra, which, at the time, did not have board of directors.
Gidudu said prosecution did not prove that in directing Unra to sign the contract, Byandala was aware that the contract was going to be awarded to a fictitious company. Gidudu added that the law allows signing of the contract before due diligence is completed.
The judge further dismissed prosecution arguments that Byandala directed his then junior minister Eng John Byabagambi to formalize a sub contract that Eutaw issued to Chongqing international construction company contrary to the IGG's earlier directives. Gidudu said the letter was an internal ministry memo and prosecution did not prove that it was formalized.