AG Asks Constitutional Court To Dismiss Petition Against MPs' 20 Million "Bribe"

2245 Views Kampala, Uganda
 The Attorney General has asked the constitutional court to dismiss with costs the petition filed against Members of Parliament who were paid 20 million shillings.
In January this year the Parliamentary Commission paid out a total sum of shillings 6.5 billion of which, a gross sum of 20 million shillings was passed on to each of the 314 MP’s to purportedly monitor unspecified Government programmes.
The petition is filed by Messrs Kaahwa, Tumusiime, Gimara and Opio Company advocates on behalf of the Advocates coalition for Development, Kitgum woman MP Beatrice Anywar and 3 others.

The petitioners argue that the act of authorization, withdrawal and payment to each individual legislator was a contravention of the constitution.
They also state that the act of paying individual MPs to monitor government programmes is inconsistent with the constitution and rules of procedure of Parliament; in as far as the duties of members of Parliament and the committee of the house are concerned.
The petitioners further state that the act of receiving, using and refusal to return the said payment by MPs, is an abuse of public trust bestowed upon them. They also went against their duties to prevent wastage of public resources and are therefore in contravention of Articles 1, 17(i) and Article 164 (2) (3) of the constitution.
Daniel Opiyo told Court that MPs are not experts in water and NAADS issues but have a mandate to invite experts to advise them on the matter.
Francis Tumusiime argues that the payment was not accompanied by guidelines and references on how to spend the money and the withdrawal was improper.
In his submissions the principal state attorney, Henry Oluka stated that the act of authorization, withdrawal and payment to each individual MP was consistent with the constitution and was not in contravention of the administration of Parliament Act, Public Finances & Accountability Act, appropriation Act and Article 155 of the constitution.
Oluka adds that though no single MP is an expert on issues raised, they are the representation and aspirations of hopes of Ugandans. He argues that if MPs are supposed to ensure development of the country, then they can monitor government programmes.
He also states that all payments were embedded in the budget estimates allowances. Therefore deterring MPs from monitoring government programmes in their communities would be in breach of the public trust.
He affirms that the actions of the speaker, the clerk to Parliament, Minister of Finance and secretary to the treasury were all consistent with the constitution and within the law.
Sitina Kerotic, representing the Parliamentary Commission also told court that the petitioners failed to show there was abuse of power. She states that the 20 million shillings was made by authority of law and the petition was premature since the matter was filed before the closure of the financial year 2010/2011.
Oluka and Kerotic maintain the petitioners failed to show there was abuse of power and asked the panel of five judges to dismiss the petition with costs.
The judges including Alice Baheigeine, Steven Kavuma, Augustine Nshimye, Stella Arach and Remmy Kasule, will give their ruling on the matter on notice.