A city lawyer attached to Sebalu and Lule Advocates, Nicholas Ecimu has sued the State House Anti-corruption unit for Shs 300m allegedly usurping the powers of the inspectorate of government (IG).
The respondents to the suit are Lt Col Edith Nakalema, the commandant of the State House Anti-corruption unit, the director of public prosecutions, attorney general, director criminal investigations department and the officer in charge of Kabalagala police station.
The suit stems from the arrest of several Mbarara district local government officials. They include the chief administrative officer Felix Cuthbert Esoku, Godlive Ayebare and Emmanuel Himbisa, both senior land officers, Aggrey Atukwatse, the assistant engineer and human resource officer Rosalia Karuhanga.
The officers were picked up by the State House Anti-corruption unit on February 22 on accusations of illegally receiving payment for various plots of land along Kamukuzi road in Mbarara municipality without authorisation from the Uganda Land Commission.
The Anti-corruption unit acted on a complaint from a whistleblower implicating the officers. They were arraigned before the Anti-corruption court in Kampala on corruption related offences. It is also alleged that Esoku caused the leasing of Plot 5A on Galt road in Mbarara municipality to Rwampara member of parliament Charles Ngabirano, well knowing that the land didn’t belong to the Mbarara district local government. Relatedly, Karuhanga and others are said to have altered minutes of the council meeting held on May 24, 2018 with intentions to deceive.
But now, Ecimu has petitioned the High court Civil Division through his lawyers Kanduho and Company Advocates to stay the investigations against the accused by Lt Col Nakalema and her unit, saying it infringes on their constitutional rights.
“The said Lt Col Nakelema is the accuser/complainant, the investigator, the arresting officer, as well as the incarcerator. She is a judge in her own case”, reads the petition in part.
Ecimu contends that the IG had commenced investigations against the suspects, which are still ongoing. He also argues that as public servants, the suspects are not accountable to the State House Anti-corruption unit but rather the inspectorate of government.
His application is supported by an affidavit. “It was obvious from the way the media was arranged and her interrogation techniques that she had planned before to go arrest my brother and his subordinate staff and embarrass them as much as possible without due regard to the law”, the affidavit reads.
Ecimu wants court to order Nakalema to stop storming offices of suspects in a manner that disturbs their peace, quiet with orders and summons for investigations and arrests. Ecimu is now demanding Shs 300 million on behalf of the suspects for the violation of their rights, saying Nakalema had no powers to storm their offices and arrest them before handing them to court for prosecution.
The matter will come up for hearing before Justice Musa Sekaana on March 6. In December 2018, President Yoweri Museveni officially launched at the State House Anti-corruption unit to handle corruption complaints including extortion at roadblocks, bribery and nepotism and embezzlement of public funds.
The unit has since arrested several officials suspected of corruption in different parts of the country including Jinja, Arua, Tororo and Wakiso district among others.