Legal representatives in a
petition challenging the COVID-19 funding to members of Parliament had put
banks on notice not to release the money to the intended beneficiaries.
Each Member of parliament received
an allocation of 20 million Shillings to enable them to participate in activities
to control the spread of coronavirus disease-COVID-19. The money was part of
the 304 billion Shillings Supplementary Budget that was approved by parliament
on April 4, 2020, to facilitate Uganda’s COVID-19 response.
But the allocation was challenged
by Ntungamo Municipality Member of Parliament Gerald Karuhanga and his Erute
South counterpart Jonathan Odur who specifically contested the manner in which
the money was approved. Karuhanga said that Parliament breached its rules of
procedure when it fused the money in question into the report of the Budget
Committee without the Consent of the Committee members.
The team secured a court injunction
last week halting the expenditure. However, according to the speaker of
Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, the money had already been processed by the
Parliamentary commission and deposited on the individual MP’s accounts by the
time the order, issued by Justice Esther Nambayo, was delivered.
But the team from AF Mpanga and
Company Advocates reportedly sent letters to all commercial banks urging them to
halt payment of 20 million Shillings to the legislators pending the final
judgement in the matter, which was issued early today.
Today High court judge Michael
Elubu ordered all Members of Parliament who benefited from the funding to
deposit the money with Parliamentary Commission, the District or COVID-19 National
Jonathan Odur, one of the
petitioners told URN that the court ruling implied that the banks were not
allowed to disburse the money. He added that although the order was specific to
the Parliamentary Commission, it also applied to whoever the money was channelled
to before getting to the final recipient.
//Cue in; “The banks are…
Cue out…barred from acting.”//
A source from one of the Banks
told URN that the order was late. By the time the court pronounced itself, a number
of legislators had withdrawn the money. “We were served, but we got it on
Wednesday and it could not be implemented immediately,” the source from a
corporate relations department said.
Harriet Kasirye, the Head of Marketing
and Corporate Relations at ABSA Bank told URN that they would have complied if
they had received the court order in time.
Solomon Muyita, the Spokesperson
of the Judiciary says that although the court did not serve the banks, the
petitioners moved the order to the banks because that worked in their interest.
“When you go to court, you get an order, and it is incumbent upon you to ensure
that the order is passed to whoever is responsible.”