By Kiyimba Bruno
KAMPALA – Former Court of Appeal registrar and current judiciary spokesperson Erias Kisawuzi has told court that his signature was forged in a certificate of order, costs and taxation to steal sh15.4b pension cash.
Kisawuzi revealed this during the trial of five people accused of embezzling sh15.4b pension money. The Anti-Corruption Court was presided over by Justice Margaret Tibulya.
The money in question was allegedly diverted to Marble Law Firm, owned by city lawyer Bob Kasango by three jailed former Ministry of Public Service officials led by former permanent secretary Jimmy Lwamafa and a court clerk Milton Mutegeyi.
Others are ex- Principal Accountant Christopher Obey, and ex-commissioner pensions Stephen Kiwanuka Kunsa.
Kisawuzi was giving his testimony under the guidance of principal state attorney Josephine Namatovu.
He told of how Justice Eudes Keitirima – the then civil court registrar – approached him in 2013 and showed him a copy of a decree arising out of a civil division suit which he purportedly signed. To his surprise, the certificate which was allegedly certified by him had a signature that appeared to be his.
“I never signed this document. I did not even write on it and the stamp does not indicate the source of its origin,” Kiwasuzi told court.
The document has a certification stamp that is not of the Court of Appeal, he added.
During cross-examination by suspect Bob Kasango, Kisawuzi confirmed that on December 5, 2013, the police took a specimen of his signature for purposes of verifying whether it matched the one in sample documents.
When asked by Kasango whether he is aware of a handwriting report that was produced after the samples, Kisawuzi said no.
Another witness, John Morris Egetu, who is a record assistant in the civil division court, testified that the said file was brought under his custody on July 19, 2012 by accused Milton Mutegeyi, a clerk to Keitirima.
When asked by senior state attorney Tom Walugembe why the file was given to him to keep, Egetu said he presumed that the matter had been concluded and last stages of execution must have taken place.
He further stated that the file was later recalled after city lawyer John Matovu filed an application in court and allocated to Keitirima but under the custody of Zahurikize Masongole, his clerk.
At this stage, Egetu said police intervened, made copies of the documents and asked him to take it to Keitirima for certification, adding that that is when Keitirima realized the orders had issues and refused to certify it.
This, he said, prompted Keitirima to summon court staff and warned them against smuggling documents in court files. He said the file was eventually allocated to Justice Lydia Mugambe for hearing and later to Justice Yasin Nyanzi.
It is alleged that in 2012, sh15.4b was paid to Kasango’s defunct law firm Hall and Partners as legal fees by former Ministry of Public Service officials, yet the money was meant for payment of pensions and gratuity of 6,337 ex-civil servants.
Together with Mutegeyi, Kasango allegedly forged a certificate of order, costs and taxation against government for the payment of the money.
The payment was in regard to a civil suit involving the 6,337 retrenched civil servants and government in 1998 for delayed payment of their pension.
Justice Vincent Kibuuka Musoke in his ruling in 2000 ordered government to pay them sh4.5m each, as damages. This totaled to about sh28b.