MPs Shocked as ex-Head of Asians’ Property Board Hands Over Stamp Instead of Seal

Bernard Tumwesigire (standing) looks on as Finance Minister, Kasaija (2nd L) and committee head observe the stamp.

Parliament subcommittee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprise (COSASE) has ordered for the arrest of the former Executive Secretary of the Departed Asians’ Property Custodian Board, Bernard Tumwesigire.

The decision to have Tumwesigire arrested follows his continued failure to hand over the Custodian Board’s seal which he has illegally withheld since 2009 when his contract was unceremoniously terminated by the Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija.

He has maintained that he still demands the Board a total of Shs 1.3bn and has accused the Minister of Finance for terminating his contract through a phone call and allowing him no space to officially hand over his office.

At the time he was sacked, Tumwesigire was in possession of a number of Board documents and the seal which he could not hand over since his office at the Ministry was locked and he was not granted access.

Last week, the committee pushed Tumwesigire to hand over the seal to which he agreed to and was given the CID to follow him up.

However, Tumwesigire would later tell the media that he would not hand over the seal since it is his security. He noted that if he is to do, he would hand it over to the Speaker of Parliament but he hasn’t done this either.

On Tuesday, the committee Vice Chairperson, Ibrahim Kasozi noted that the Police CID reported to him that he had not received the seal from Tumwesigire. He said he called Tumwesigire several times but he could not pick his calls.

Kasozi described the former Executive Secretary as outrageous and a contempt of Parliament.

“He agreed to deliver the seal and other documents, I so direct the CID to liaise with the board Chairperson so that by Tuesday 20th they bring the seal,” Kasozi said.

“They should arrest the officer if he refuses to handover the seal since it is a government property, there is no way we can sit and fold our hands.”

However, before the committee adjourned the meeting, Tumwesigire walked in with the ‘seal’ which was contested by the Minister, noting that this was instead a stamp.

Tumwesigire told legislators on the committee that this (stamp) is what he has been in possession of all along and that it is what he used for all his operations.

He said the seal is with the Minister Kasaija from whom he took over office.

This left committee members in shock.

The committee resolved to halt the matter but commence investigations into whether Tumwesigire was ever given a seal for his operations or he only held a stamp.

On the other hand, the Minister Kasaija refuted allegations that Tumwesigire still demands the Board salary arrears, insisting the latter was fully paid after termination of his contract.

Kasaija’s through the current Board Executive Secretary, George William Bintubizibu noted that Tumwesigire was on June 21, 2016 paid Shs 66m through his Barclays Bank account in addition to another payment (including salary arrears amounting to Shs 22.6m) which payment followed the advice of the Attorney General.

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