By Stephen Kafeero
Baku has worked for or under him since 1992
Inspector General of Government (IGG) Raphael Baku Obudra’s announcement on June 20 that Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has no case to answer over alleged wrongdoing in the procurement of security communication system for the 2007 CHOGM in Kampala has drawn wide criticism.
The Parliamentary Accounts Committee, which investigated the fraudulent procurements based on a forensic report by the Auditor General, had accused Mbabazi of influence peddling, conflict of interest, causing financial loss and flouting procurement laws. He was accused of inflating the cost of the system from US$3.2m to US$5m (Approx. Shs 12 billion).
Former Vice-President Gilbert Bukenya is being sued by the IGG over similar accusations. Some MPs have said other top government officials linked to the crime, like Mbabazi and Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa should also be prosecuted.
Several people who spoke to The Independent said judging by the past relationship between Baku and Mbabazi, even the prime minister is innocent, his acquittal by an IGG who was his former principal assistant makes the investigation questionable.
It has been pointed out that when Baku, the acting Inspector General of Government (IGG), left university in 1987, the first job he got was in President Yoweri Museveni’s office. He left the job to become principal assistant to John Patrick Amama Mbabazi who was then the minister of state for Defence.
Four years later, in 1996 he entered parliament as the elected representative of West Moyo Constituency. He was immediately put on the Defense and Internal Affairs Committee. Mbabazi was then minister of state for Defence. Two years later, Mbabazi was switched to the ministry of Foreign Affairs and regional Cooperation. Baku stood for re-election in 2001 but was defeated by the late Agard Didi.
In 1998 he was appointed Deputy Director for Research for NRM Secretariat and in 2004, he was made the Ag. Director Legal Affairs – Movement Secretariat where he worked closely with Mbabazi.
In 2005, he was appointed Deputy Inspector General of Government and he is now the Inspector General of Government. At the time, critics observed that Baku’s appointment had effectively quashed the independence of the IGG’s office and rendered it an appendage of the NRM party.
President Museveni confirmed the reappointment of Baku as the deputy IGG in April 2009 and also appointed him as the acting IGG replacing Justice Faith Mwondha who had refused to go to the appointments committee to be re- vetted for the second term in office Baku has since held both posts.
The closeness of that relationship has led many to query the claim in the IGG’s report that the source of PAC’s information against Mbabazi was not supported by any documentary evidence.
The IGG also downplayed all the allegations by PAC which indicated that a one Susan Katono was a daughter to Amama Mbabazi and that it was through her that he peddled his influence in the deal.
The IGG’s report indicated that she was just an employee of the company and did not take part in the negotiations. This effectively pulled her out of the picture. The IGG report notes that Mbabazi had told him that Katono is a distant relative whom he rarely talked to.
The IGG’s findings pointed out that Mbabazi’s only role in the whole process as security minister was to present the resolutions and recommendations of the Security Sub- Committee to the Cabinet Sub Committee of CHOGM.
Nandala Mafabi who headed Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee that spent months investigating the scandal and came up with a report which the then Speaker of Parliament Edward Ssekandi swept under the carpet, said Baku is “playing a political role not the one of ombudsman”.
Mafabi said the IGG is playing a game of selective application of the law. “The IGG should come out clearly and tell Ugandans whether he is playing a political role or he is serving Ugandans. If Ugandans lost money, there is no need to keep clearing people,” Mafabi told the press at parliament.
Mbabazi insists the PAC report was the handiwork of his political enemies. Speaking to journalists shortly after the IGG had cleared him, Mbabazi boasted that those who wanted to politically fix him did not have any proof. He said further that Mafabi’s report was challenged in Parliament because he failed to produce evidence.
Barnarbas Tinkansiimire, an NRM MP for Buyaga west constituency, says the opposition through PAC wanted to tarnish Amama Mbabazi’s image “because he is leading in the succession queue to replace the president”.
To him the past relationship between Amama Mbabazi was a working relationship and he could not see how it would interfere with the current operations of the IGG.
Elijah Okupa, the opposition FDC MP for Kasilo County said he was not surprised that the IGG was unfortunately playing a political role and selectively dispensing justice to clear Mbabazi. He attributed it to their past relationship.
But long time legislator and Dokolo County Woman MP Atim Cecilia Ogwal said the IGG is not the final authority on Mbabazi’s innocence in the CHOGM affair. She said Baku’s decision is subject to question, judging by his relationship with Mbabazi. She compared the case to a child, Baku, trying his beloved father, Mbabazi, in court. Ogwal wants the case be taken to another body for further scrutiny so that Mbabazi is tried and satisfactorily exonerated if he did not commit any offence.
Cecilia Ogwal said if the Kenya style of vetting high profile public officials had been applied, a more competent IGG would have been named to handle such cases at the one involving Mbabazi.