Deputy attorney general, Mwesigwa Rukutana, has Wednesday had a bitter verbal exchange with the Chairperson of the Land Commission of Inquiry, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, during an interview in which the probe seeks to investigate how Dr Muhammad Kasasa is slated to be paid billions of money by government in compensation in a manner that is said to be fraudulent.
Kasasa claims that he sold his four plots of land to the External Security Organisation (ESO) but he has never been paid.
In the middle of the interview, Bamugemereire interjected saying Rukutana answered questions in a way that she perceived as disrespectful. She ordered him to respond with decorum.
‘’Attorney General, this is a commission of inquiry, we expect you to be respectful. Can you please answer our counsel and the rest of us with decorum expected, so answers like whatever it is, let me finish is not the kind of behaviour we expect from a learned Attorney General,’’ Bamugemereire guided.
In response, the defiant Attorney general said that as far as he was concerned, there was no problem with his response before saying that ‘’I am trying to answer the questions as they are posed and I will maintain that stance.’’
Thereafter, Bamugemereire asked to have his word on the matter, shortly before, Rukutana asked ‘’Which word?’’ prompting the Chairperson to ask him agaun whether he would be respectful to the commission.
‘’Look, my position is very clear, as long as am respected I will be respectful. If I am not respected, I will not respect anybody,’’ Rukutana responded.
This invigorated Justice Bamugemereire responded saying that the commission couldn’t continue with a disrespectful attorney general as she explained the cause for Rukutana’s invite to the commission.
She said it was not proper for the commission to engage a person who sees them as a “waste of time” before saying that the main intention of seeking the Attorney General’s guidance was clarity on the compensation awarded to Dr Kasasa.
“There have been allegations that these figures and contracts are arrived at through inflated, irregular and even probably fraudulent processes,” she explained.
“As it turns out, we are fronted with a situation of hostility, combativeness, disrespect and a condescending attitude never ever seen before. At this point in time, as regards the attorney general’s opinion on this issue, I will refer this matter to the President of Uganda who is our appointing authority,” she added.
A seemingly furious Justice, said the President will then probably find another way of investigating, probing and verifying how Shs24.6 billion is about to leave the national treasury, as well find a body Rukutana will respect enough to cooperate before dismissing him.
“As of now, this interview is over, you are dismissed and discharged. Please get out of here.”
The Deputy attorney would later walk out and tell the media that there was no genuine reason for his dismissal.
“All they wanted were the headline – The attorney general was dismissed – so what? They can go hang,” he said.
Asked by reporters whether he was not concerned about forwarding the matter to the President, the attorney general said “they can can take it to God, I don’t give a damn.”
Justice Bamugemereire has variously been accused of shouting at persons invited to the commission, sometimes trearing them as already sentenced.
Appointed on December 8, 2016 and sworn in on February 19 2017, the seven member Commission’s mandate is to inquire into the effectiveness of law, policies and processes of land acquisition, land administration, land management and land registration in Uganda.
The Commission which operates from the National Records Centre and Archives under the Ministry of Public Service in Wandegeya near Kampala officially opened its public hearings on May 9 2017.