Parliament’s Committee of Commissions, statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), has ordered the arrest of city Kayla Lubega over accusations of forging a judge’s signature and swindling Government of Shs2.3Bn.
The Committee was prompted to arrest Lubega after his partner at Lubega and Buzibira Company Advocates, failed to show up for the second time, on pretext that he had travelled for a burial in Kiruhura district.
Lubega informed Parliament that Nantalia Namuli (79years) approached their law firm seeking compensation for land taken over by Uganda Land Commission and that she had powers of attorney from her late grandfather Antwane Kalete.
However, when Joel Ssenyonyi (Chairperson COSASE) asked Banny Twesigye, Detective Assistant Insoector of Uganda Police to brief the Committee on Parliament’s investigation about the matter, Twesigye laid out how the law firm laid a scheme with officials at ULC to swindle Shs2.3Bn from Ugandan taxpayers.
Twesigye informed Parliament that when he interacted with Namuli on 21st June 2022 in Nyakasozi village in Kagadi district, she categorically denied being the administrator of Kalete’s estate, being related to the late’s family and also denied receiving any money of the said compensation.
“But she categorically denied being the administrator of the estate of late Kalete, she further confirmed that she isn’t related with the family and also declined knowledge about it. She denied receiving any compensation money but revealed that she recalls that in late 2020 Amara Peter, her son in law the husband to her biological daughter made her sign some of the documents she had no knowledge about,” said Twesigye.
According to information before the Committee, Government approved payment through a supplementary budget to a tune of over Shs10Bn to four claimants, with Namuli receiving Shs1.58Bn on top of the Shs450M she had earlier received, thus bringing her compensation to Shs2.3Bn.
However, detective Twesigye informed the Committee that the letter of powers of attorney that lawyer Richard Buzibira relied on to approach the Commission for the compensation had been forged.
According to the Assistant Registrar at Masindi High Court, the letters of administration addressed to Namuli weren’t authentic because the resident judge at the time of purported signing of letters of administration was Justice Simon Byabakama and not Justice Ralph Ochan whom they had on the letters of administration as Raphael Ochan and couldn’t have signed letters of administration while in retirement.
“It is clear that Uganda Land Commission paud fraudsters who duped the old lady Namuli to sign on their document without any knowledge on what their intentions were. This seems to have been a syndicate orchestrated by Amara Peter, some ULC officials and lawyers who should account for this compensation money,” said Twesigye.
According to the detective’s account following his interview with Namuli, her son in law Amara, whisked her off in 2020 to Kampala and hosted her in one of the buildings in Kampala where she was made to attach her thumbprint on several documents, an exercise that lasted several hours and by the time the team completed the scheme, it was late and Namuli was checked into a hotel in Kampala.
Ssenyonyi also revealed that Justice Ochan wrote to the Committee and confirmed that his signature to the letters of administration was forged because at that time of the purported issuance, he was Chairperson Public Service Commission.
“What tipped us off initially, was that this particular judge retired in 2013, this court order was signed in 2015. This particular document that was relied on to get your client money from Uganda Land Commission was denied by the judge,” said Ssenyonyi.
So my colleague who was handling the client asked me to sign in order to pay which I did and he went ahead and paid the client, I wasn’t physically there to acknowledge the payment because it wasn’t a requirement for me to be there but I did sign for him and he withdrew the money and I believe he paid the client because I have never received any complaint,” said Lubega.
However, Ssenyonyi warned Lubega against pushing the blame to his partner saying if the law firm is being used to orchestrate fraud, all partners in the firm have to take responsibility and revealed plans to have Buzibira answer for all his crimes.
Lubega revealed that the law firm had agreed to be paid 10% of the money upon payment, meaning Buzibira walked away with over Shs230M in legal fees, but the money was withdrawn immediately it hit the account and the law firm received its share in cash.
This revelation prompted more queries from MPs like Yusuf Nsibambi (Mawokota South) who informed the Committee that while he worked as secretary for one of the commercial banks, such money to a tune of shs1.3Bn would require the authorization of Financial Intelligent Authority to withdraw as per anti-money laundering laws.
“The way things are, a billion isn’t a small issue, I don’t know how many transactions that you handle at a firm, but we are concerned how this money was withdrawn. Me if I got a billion and I go to the whole village, the whole clan wouldn’t sleep. Tell us who received this huge amount of money, it appears cash it is really money laundering,” said Nsibambi.
During the probe, Mpindi Bumali (PWD) informed the Committee that a Google search into lawyer Buzibira revealed that he had been plagued with many scandals in dubious land transaction, citing three cases ranging between Shs1Bn and the highest case amounting to Shs16Bn.
However, Lubega distanced himself from the scandals saying he had just recently partnered with Buzibira, prompting MPs to ask him why he didn’t do due diligence on his partners before forming the law firm.
Mpindi asked Lubega whether he wanted to end up like late Bob Kasango who was indicted by court on charges of corruption, when he ignored looking into Buzibira. The Committee handed over Lubega to Parliament Police and ordered Buzibira report to police or risk summons issued against him.