The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), Abdul Katuntu has directed Police and Interpol to arrest and produce the former Executive Director, Bank Supervision at the Central Bank, Justine Bagyenda in case she fails to appear before Committee on Tuesday next week.
Katuntu’s ruling followed the failure by Bagyenda to appear before the committee on Friday to respond to queries that were raised on liquidation reports of defunct Greenland bank.
Members sitting on the committee were shocked on receiving a letter from Bagyenda through the Governor of Bank of Uganda, Tumusiime Mutebile, that she would not be able to attend the committee sittings since she will be out of the country for other meetings.
Bagyenda’s letter to the committee however didn’t indicate which country she had traveled to as well as when she will be returning to the country.
This angered legislators who noted that this was tantamount to holding Parliament in contempt since she knew very well as of yesterday when she appeared before the same committee, that she would be traveling out of the country but didn’t inform the committee.
“At this point Chair, we need to evoke our powers that are equivalent to those of the High Court provided for in Rule 205 (d) which spells out that the committee shall have powers to enforce the attendance of any witness and examining them on Oath,” noted Rubaga North MP, Moses Kasibante.
Kasibante added that Bank of Uganda should be ordered to ensure that they compel Bagyenda to appear before the committee.
The committee Vice Chairperson, Anita Among as well called upon the Chairperson to evoke the powers of the committee that are provided for in Article 90 of the Constitution of Uganda.
Before the Chairperson’s ruling, the Central Bank Governor, Mutebile was asked to explain when he received the letter from Bagyenda and whether they held a meeting over the same.
“The answer is No, I have not discussed the letter with her, I also learnt about it this morning and according to the stamp the letter was received at my office at 10:15am,” Mutebile said.
In his ruling, Katuntu noted that the committee is empowered by the Constitution, the Parliametary Powers and Privilages Act and the Rules of Procedure and clear on what we can do.
“I am always reluctant to evoke these powers but when I need to protect the integrity of this House, I have to. No Ugandan will hold this House in contempt while we are watching. Anybody who holds this House in contempt will be held firmly and in accordance with the law,” Katuntu said.
“We will not continue with this meeting in the absence of BOU officials who were in offices then. I would have issued a warrant of arrest but let’s be cautious that there is always the first time to commit an offence,” noted Katuntu.
“I hereby issue summons to Bagyenda, and if she doesn’t appear on Tuesday, we will be left with no option but issue a warrant of arrest from wherever she will be,” Katuntu ruled.
Katuntu has as well directed the Uganda Police to supply the committee with details of Bagyenda’s travel at the airport.