Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The interdicted Executive Director of Mulago National Referral Hospital Dr. Baterana Byarugaba, wants court to throw out the evidence and charges brought against him by the State House Health Monitoring Unit on the basis of lack of jurisdiction.
This comes after the hospital director was this week charged with embezzlement, fraudulent accounting, abuse of office, and causing financial loss to the government worth over 28 billion shillings in the past four years.
The charges were made following the arrest of Dr. Baterana Byarugaba by the Health Monitoring Unit from his office at the hospital. According to the director of the health monitoring unit Dr. Warren Namara, they opted to arrest Byarugaba after he ignored their summons.
Now in an application filed by Dr. Byarugaba’s lawyers Tumwebaze Emmanuel Advocates and Solicitors at the Civil Division of the High Court, the petitioner claims that the investigations and his arrest were unlawfully carried out since the Health Monitoring Unit has no legal authority to carry out investigations or even write a report that can be relied upon by the Permanent Secretary Dr. Diana Atwine or the Chairperson of the Management Board of Mulago National Referral Hospital, Edward Kanyewigye.
“A declaration that the State House Health Monitoring Unit headed by the 2nd Respondent has no legal authority and capacity to summon, investigate and arrest any Citizen of Uganda on complaints and matters lodged and being investigated by Uganda Police Force,” the petition reads in part.
Dr. Byarugaba also wants court to declare the report null and void. “A declaration that the investigative review report made by the Health Monitoring Unit relating to financial matters of Mulago National Referral Hospital is null and void.”
However, the health monitoring unit director Dr. Warren Namara says his unit has the authority to investigate Mulago and other health services in the country and hold them accountable. Dr. Namara says the unit works with CID police which carries out investigations and records statements on their behalf.
“The HMU doesn’t arrest. The police arrests and the investigations and records the statement. Our job is the professional part but we don’t arrest, we don’t detain and we don’t try. We work with Uganda Police, the Judiciary, the ministry of health in order for us to do our job. Us we don’t arrest and neither are we detaining him but the police is the one recording statements from me at our offices because we have a CID section,” he said.
The Health Monitoring Unit was established in August 2009 on the directive of the President under Article 171 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (1995) as a Medicines/Health Services Delivery Unit in response to the persistent public outcry on the poor medicines and health services delivery in the country.
The unit works with qualified trained police investigators who carry out investigations and arrests. The persons arrested end up in courts of law and have in the passed served jail sentences for persons who have stolen medical equipment.
Dr. Byarugaba was released on bond on Thursday afternoon from Jinja Road Police Station where he spent two nights. He is expected to report at the station next week on March 9. However, he has been also interdicted by Dr. Atwine.
In a letter addressed to Byarugaba, the permanent secretary asked him to hand over his office to his deputy Dr. Rosemary Byanyiima.
“Persuant to Section F-s and F-r of the Public Service Standing Orders,2021 you are hereby interdicted from duty to pave way for investigations and you will receive half pay with immediate effect until the charges against you have been cleared,” the letter reads in part.
Dr. Byarugaba’s lawyers have since come up to say they are also going to file for an injunction on their clients interdiction since he was not given a chance to defend himself before the hospital board.