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Court convicts Makerere University deputy academic registrar for abuse of office

Former Makerere University deputy academic registrar Margaret Etuusa. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Anti Corruption Court in Kampala has found Margaret Etuusa Loy Lubega, the Makerere University deputy academic registrar in charge of Certificates, Ceremonies and Publications guilty of four counts of abuse of office.

Justice Margaret Tibulya delivered the verdict after finding Etuusa guilty of fraudulently procuring Exxon Contractors Limited, JAALC (U) Limited and Juliet Mirembe of EPRC Restaurant, to provide phone custody services and food vending services respectively during the 67th graduation ceremony.

According to the court, Exxon Company charged parents and graduands Shillings 3,000 for safe custody of their phones after being contracted illegally by Etuusa for her personal benefits. The court also found Etuusa guilty of contravening procurement laws by irregularly procuring a one Milton Egayu to provide flower vending services at the same event.

According to Justice Margaret Tibulya, by doing this, Etuusa abused the authority of her office and contravened procurement laws, regulations and procedures which require such to go through the formal bidding process. She also noted that besides this, it was also not Etuusa’s role as the deputy academic registrar to contract service providers.

She also dismissed Etuusa’s claim that Makerere University Security sub committee, which the convict attended illegally cleared the phone handling services. Justice Margaret Tibulya instead notes that the Evaluation Committee didn’t consider any bids for the disputed services, and that Makerere University Contracts Committee, which is mandated to handle all procurements was never involved in the procurement of the disputed services.

The Judge also noted that evidence on record from Namoah Masikye, the Mak Academic Registrar indicates that management had resolved to exclude Etuusa from further participation in the procurement process relating to the 67th graduation ceremony. However, Professor Ddumba Ssentamu, the then Vice-Chancellor asked Masikye to allow her attend the meeting she was legally excluded from.

“This points to the possibility that Professor John Ddumba Ssentamu was compromised and was part of the problem from the initial stages. In the result, the court determines that the accused was never permitted to issue the letters permitting the service providers to provide the services in issue,” said Justice Tibulya.

Justice Tibulya also observed that the court heard from Jackson Mucunguzi, the former Chairperson of the Sub Security Committee of the University that their role was to oversee security matters and had nothing to do with sourcing vendors as indicated by Etuusa in her defence.

“The accused awarded contracts to service providers outside the procurement process by virtue of her office of Deputy Academic Registrar in charge of ceremonies. By her actions, she wrongfully side stepped the ceremonies and contracts committee and hijacked the contracts. She therefore wrongly used her office”, ruled Tibulya.

She therefore sentenced Etuusa to two years in jail or a fine of Shillings 4 million on all four counts for abuse of office. Etuusa opted to pay the fine and walk home. Despite this, she will not hold any public office for the next ten years starting today due to her criminal record.

In June 2020, High Court Judge Lydia Mugambe ordered Makerere University to reinstate Etuusa in her position as the Deputy Academic Registrar, saying she was suspended illegally because she wasn’t given a fair hearing. However, the university defied the court prompting Justice Mugambe to award her compensation of Shillings 350 million.



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