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Kyagulanyi loses bid to block URA from re-assessing vehicle

 

 

Bobi Wine poses with his new armored (bullet-proof) car. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu has lost his bid to block Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) from recalling his vehicle for a reassessment.

His application was dismissed on Tuesday by the Deputy Head of High Court Civil Division Judge Emmanuel Baguma. Baguma argued that Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine failed to adduce evidence to show that the recalling of the vehicle for re-verification will cause him an irreparable injury which cannot be compensated by an award of damages.

On March 1st 2021, Kyagulanyi through his lawyers from Wameli and Company Advocates petitioned the High Court seeking a temporary injunction restraining URA and its agents from taking his vehicle Land Cruiser  V8  Registration number UBJ 667F for a re-verification exercise.

National Unity Platform (NUP) president Kyagulanyi argued that ever since he expressed his bid to contest for the presidency, the government has been targeting him with aim of depriving him of his property.

According to Kyagulanyi, the vehicle in question was the only one he was left with following another that was impounded by police following the chaos that marred the Arua Municipality by elections two years ago.

Kyagulanyi was challenging a decision by URA dated February 24th 2021 asked the court to issue a temporary injunction restraining URA from going ahead with recalling his vehicle.

His lawyers argued that Kyagulanyi was to suffer irreparable damages and had bought the vehicle for his security and transport. The decision to recall Kyagulanyi’s vehicle was contained in a letter issued by the URA Commissioner for Customs Abel Kagumire.

Kagumire wrote to Kyagulanyi requiring him to surrender his vehicle registration number UBJ-667F for examination by February 26 2021.

According to the tax body, by the time the car was cleared, it was never brought to their attention that it was armoured and therefore it passed through the system as an ordinary car having been under-valued at sh157 million.

During the hearing, URA which was represented by a team of lawyers led by Alex Ssali Aliddeki opposed the application. Court heard that although Kyagulanyi was okay with having his vehicle examined at his home, the laws require URA to re-assess and re-evaluate already cleared goods at the URA warehouses.

However, in his ruling delivered to parties via email, Justice Baguma noted that a temporary injunction can only be given when an applicant proves that he or she will suffer an irreparable injury that would not adequately be compensated by an award of damages.

According to Justice Baguma, Kyagulanyi’s main aim for seeking an injunction was that the vehicle which URA wanted to re-examine was his only means of transport and his security. But he was not satisfied with such submissions.

“It is, therefore, my considered view that the applicant has not adduced evidence to show that the recalling of the said motor vehicle for re-verification/re-examination will cause him an irreparable injury which cannot be compensated by an award of damages.

Baguma ruled that each party will bear its costs.

Last month, the office of the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) also indicated it is waiting for Kyagulanyi to update the anti-corruption body on his wealth since information circulated that he had got a donation of an armored (bullet-proof) car.

The Leadership Code Act 2002 of Uganda, compels all leaders to periodically declare their wealth, while a gift worth 10 currency points in value or Shs 200,000 is supposed to be declared immediately.

Last month, Kyagulanyi informed his supporters that a group of mainly foreign-based supporters had been raising funds during his presidential bid to acquire for him a bulletproof car so as to go through the violent campaign period. According to many of his supporters, the Land Cruiser car is more than Shs 300 million.

An internet search shows that a new Toyota Land-Cruiser vehicle costs from $85,000 (Shs 310m), while an armored one goes for between $395,000 and $450,000 (Shs 1.4 billion to 1.65 billion), depending on the features.

Kyagulanyi also said that even the bullet-proof jacket and the helmet he has been using were bought by his supporters.

The acting IGG George Bamugemereire says where a leader fails to or refuses to justify that they are entitled to the item in question, it becomes government property.

Bamugemereire says that like any leader, Kyagulanyi will be expected to declare the car whether it was donated or bought by himself.

He says Kyagulanyi is still a leader of a political party registered under the laws and like any leader, he is expected to declare his wealth irrespective of how it was acquired.

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