" Why would a doctor be sent to prison for having used money for staff houses to build an intensive Care Unit? That Officer should face only administrative disciplinary measures such as demotion, not criminal proceedings for alleged corruption", said Kakuru.
The Court of
Appeal has quashed the conviction and 30 months’ jail term that was handed to
Dr. Yovantino Akii Agel, the former Medical Superintendent and Director of
Medical Services at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.
Dr. Akii Agel
together with the former Accountant of the hospital Geoffrey Omongoo were on
April 23rd, 2015 convicted by the then Anti-Corruption Court Judge Catherine
Bamugemereire on charges of abuse of office and embezzlement of 3.6 billion shillings.
the evidence before court, the said monies were allocated by the government as
capital development funds for two financial years 2008/2009 and 2009 /2010 for
the rehabilitation of Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.
happy with the sentence, the convicts through their lawyers led by Macdusman
Kabega told court that the learned trial Judge erred in law and fact when she
convicted them solely on the Prosecution evidence without regard for
consideration of their defense among other grounds.
that the convicts diverted some of the funds on emerging issues like rehabilitation of the medical and surgical wards which had been last renovated in the 1930s.
That when renovations began, they discovered that the structures were weak and
couldn't take the weight of a new roof as had been planned and to that effect, the
district engineer recommended that the walls of the buildings be demolished and
rebuild which necessitated extra works that had not been included in the
original bill of quantities.
issues included the walk way between the theatre and maternity ward, toilets,
generator house, and electrical wiring which they said the prosecution
witnesses confirmed that the public had benefited from these services.
As such, the
convicts who were out on bail asked Court of Appeal to overturn their sentences
and set them free saying they didn’t embezzle anything. However, in their
Judgement dated September 17th 2021, the Court of Appeal Judges comprising
of Kenneth Kakuru, Muzamiru Mutangula Kibeedi and Irene Mulyagonja have agreed with
the convicts and set them free because there was insufficient evidence pinning
them of the crimes in issue.
The Judges have
ruled that after the rehabilitation of the structures and improvement in the
facilities availed to them, the level of service delivery increased in the area
as a result of the rehabilitation and construction of facilities in the
financial year 2009/2010 as compared to 2008/2009.
They noted that
the outpatient contacts increased from 47,459 to, 73,608, overall admissions
from 12, 414 to 18,929, surgical operations from 5,309 to 7,610 and Specialized
services increased from 35, 285 to 75,000 as indicated in Dr. Akii’s handover
the Judges, the said figures do not indicate that the beneficiaries of the
project were prejudiced; instead the Judges say they benefited from the works
though they acknowledge that some of the processes were flawed.
therefore find that although the 1st appellant/Dr. Akii authorized spending of
monies from the capital development fund on activities that had not been
budgeted for and without approval of the ministry of finance, the use of the
funds was not prejudiced to any person named in section 11 (1) of the Anti-Corruption
Act, but instead beneficial. So was the increased expenditure that led to the
ministry of finance allocating more funds to the project than was initially
budgeted and planned for. We therefore find that the Judge erred when she
convicted the 1st appellant for abuse of office.
former Accountant’s part, the court has ruled that several documents relating
to the alleged theft of funds such as bank statements and cash books were not
placed before them and were neither included on the record of proceedings nor
be traced on the court file of the Anti-Corruption Court.
"It was therefore not possible for us to
reappraise the evidence and confirm that the Prosecution proved beyond
reasonable doubt that the 2nd Appellant indeed stole Ugx 135,720,624 from Gulu
RRH" reads the Judgement in part.
the Judges have set aside the conviction and sentences of the two saying that
the trial Judge Bamugemereire did not have sufficient evidence to arrive at her
taking leave of the case, the Judges observed that the practice of
criminalizing every irregular administrative act has no legal basis at all.
such cases, Accounting Officers and other public servants are entitled to
administrative hearings before criminal charges are brought against them. This
ought to be a prerequisite to a police complaint and or an investigation by any
of the relevant bodies”, reads the Judgement wrote by Justice Kakuru.
According to Justice Kakuru, where money is
found to have been " lost" the public standing orders provide for
recovery of the money from a public officer through deductions from their
monthly salary and not every wrong decision is necessarily criminal.
would a doctor be sent to prison for having used money for staff houses to
build an intensive Care Unit? That Officer should face only administrative
disciplinary measures such as demotion, not criminal proceedings for alleged
corruption", said Kakuru.