Court Stops Parliament from Probing Oil Cash Bonanza Top story

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In short
The payment, now referred to the presidential handshake, has attracted sharp criticism from the public, MPs, civil society among other sections of the public. But Eric Sabiiti, a legal officer with the Electoral Commission says the planned investigation interferes with Executive powers.

Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma has this evening issued an interim order stopping Parliament from investigating the 6 billion Shillings bonus paid out to government officials who were  involved in a tax arbitration case between Uganda and Heritage Oil.

The order comes a day before an anticipated motion on the bonanza in which 42 top government officials shared 6 billion Shillings as a bonus for helping Uganda secure (USD 400 million) 1.4 trillion Shillings in capital gains tax from Heritage Oil's sale of its stake to Tullow. 

The payment, now referred to the presidential handshake,  has attracted sharp criticism from the public, MPs and civil society among other sections of the public.

But Eric Sabiiti, a legal officer with the Electoral Commission says the planned investigation interferes with Executive powers. Sabiiti in his petition narrates how the officials from Ministries of Justice, Energy and Finance alongside the Uganda Revenue Authority played a diligent role that earned them the Presidential hand shake.

He adds that following a protracted litigation, the technical winning team met with President Museveni on May 17 2015 led by the then attorney general Peter Nyombi to commend the team's efforts. It was during the said meeting that President Museveni directed the Commissioner General of URA to propose a reward for the team.

He says that after obtaining all the necessary approvals to withdraw the money from the consolidated fund, the Commissioner General paid out 3.6 billion Shillings to the selected individuals. The balance was withheld as tax and NSSF.

Through his lawyers, Sabiiti says that he believes the above actions and sharp criticisms by the public and MPs is inconsistent with the constitution.

Based on this, an order by justice Kavuma was issued stopping any kind of investigation until the main petition now before court is determined.

"An interim order is hereby issued restraining Parliament, any person or authority from investigating, questioning or inquiring into the impugned bonus payments and or staying all proceedings of whatever nature if any which may be pending before any for a whatsoever arising from the impugned payments, until the main application No. 6 of 2017 has been heard and determined." reads in part interim issued by Justice Kavuma.

Further in his orders, Justice Kavuma ordered the registrar of the court to ensure pretrial steps are taken in good time and fix the hearing of the main petition without delay