The Buganda Road Magistrates Court has fixed September 23rd 2022, to decide whether the former Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Airlines Cornwell Muleya, has a case to answer in relation to charges of disobedience of orders requiring him to record a statement on matters related to corruption.
The Grade One Magistrate Asuman Muhumuza on Thursday fixed the date after the prosecutors led by Rogers Kinobe informed court that they had closed their case with three witnesses two of whom testified last month and another who has testified today.
It is alleged that on May 23, 2022, the Inspectorate of Government summoned Muleya to provide documents regarding mismanagement of public funds, procurements, and recruitment of staff at Uganda Airlines.
But he failed to show up without any justifiable reason, prompting the IG to arrest him on June 22nd, 2022 for disobeying lawful summons.
The Zambian national was subsequently charged and denied the allegations saying he is innocent which prompted the prosecutors to start trial.
As a result, on August 31st 2022, the Inspectorate of Government led by State Attorney Kinobe presented two witnesses who testified how the crime was executed.
The Supervisor of Special Investigations at the IGG’s office Gideon Abudum was the first on stand and he explained that he was in April 2022 assigned a file to investigate the alleged corruption at Uganda Airlines.
The court heard that Abudum retrieved some documents and analyzed them, summoned and interviewed some staff of the Airlines, but efforts to get former CEO Muleya were futile.
The witness added that they later received a letter from Muleya’s lawyers questioning the way in which their client had been summoned. This was after the IGG sent Muleya an email and required him to report with his passport. The court heard that the IGG afterwards held a meeting with Muleya’s lawyers who said he was out of the country and it was agreed that they represent him, but this did not happen.
The second witness was Loreen Akello, a police officer who arrested Muleya after tracking down his phone calls and establishing that he was actually in the country, using an Airtel number registered in the name of Catherine Ahimbisibwe.
When the matter came up today, the IGG presented their third and last witness Francis Kabera, the Security Manager of Airtel who has collaborated the evidence given by the investigating officer.
Kabera said that although the number that was investigated was being used by Muleya, it was registered in the name of Ahimbisibwe and the location was mostly around Entebbe Zoo and Entebbe Airport Terminal.
Kabera adduced evidence to this effect in form of call records, identification cards, and registration forms among other related documents.
But Muleya’s lawyers led by Charles Nsubuga asked Kabera if he had evidence showing that the phone number was being used by their client and had initially been registered under his name(Muleya’s name). Kabera answered in the affirmative adding that although that evidence would only be understood by a technical person which sent court into laughter.
After hearing the testimony by Kabera, prosecution closed its case, the Magistrate Muhumuza then asked parties to make written submissions on whether Muleya should be found with a case to answer. He gave them up to September 15th 2022 to do this and then return to court for his decision a week after.
Should he be found with a case to answer, Muleya will be asked to defend himself over the accusations. And in the event that he is found without a case to answer, Muleya who is out on bail will be acquitted and set free.
Background to the matter
On April 21st 2021, the Works and Transport Minister Edward Katumba Wamala sent Muleya and 12 other top officials of the airline on forced leave on the orders of President Yoweri Museveni to pave way for investigations into allegations of financial mismanagement, collusion, and nepotism in staff recruitment among other issues.
In February 2022, the Works and Transport Ministry Permanent Secretary terminated Muleya’s contract forcing him to file a complaint with Wakiso District Labour Office on April 4th, 2022 citing unlawful termination of his contract. However, the labor office referred the matter in which Muleya is seeking more than 3 billion Shillings to the industrial court.