Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The High Court in Kampala has dismissed an application in which Charles Isabirye, an education officer sought to challenge his interdiction.
Justice Musa Ssekaana in his decision sent to parties via email has dismissed the application filed against the outgoing Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Education and Sports Alex Kakooza, Ministry of Education and Sports, and Attorney General, on grounds that it was premature and it therefore lacked merit.
In March 2019, Isabirye who was a teacher in Mbale and Kamuli districts was transferred to the Ministry of Education and Sports as an education officer in Charge of Physical Education until his interdiction on June 15th 2020.
Isabirye was interdicted for allegedly forging the signature of his supervisor Alex Omara Apitta, the Commissioner for Physical Education and Sports and requisitioned for funds amounting to 20,728,200 shillings.
It is alleged that Isabirye irregularly requisitioned the funds purportedly to facilitate, monitor, support, supervise and track the status of facilities and equipment in schools in selected districts in Uganda, which activity was not in the Ministry’s work.
“The preliminary investigations confirmed that the applicant had forged my signature and requisitioned funds irregularly and was interdicted by the Accounting Officer, Permanent Secretary on 8th June 2020 to pave way for detailed investigations on the subject matter”, Apitta told the court.
Apitta added that Isabirye was allowed to respond to the interdiction and to show cause why disciplinary action should not be instituted against him by providing a defense within 14 days from the receipt of the interdiction letter. But Isabirye did not make any response.
Apitta who put in response on behalf of the respondents told the court that the interdiction of Isabirye was lawful and justified in a view of the allegations of unethical conduct against him.
But Isabirye who represented himself argued that before his interdiction, he was never given any warning regarding how he requisitioned for funds. Court heard that after his interdiction, Isabirye was required to file a defence concerning the interdiction and contents and the procedure before interdiction was never followed.
Isabirye asked the court to quash the decision to interdict him and later requesting him to submit a defense after the interdiction before according him a hearing.
Isabirye also asked the court to issue an order to immediately compel the respondents to reinstate him on the job because their actions were allegedly illegal and unlawful and have since caused him embarrassment.
However, in his decision dated July 15th 2021, Justice Ssekaana states that the arguments of Isabirye lacked merit and he was interdicted on criminal grave offences.
“The applicant/Isabirye was suspected to have fraudulently requisitioned for funds not budgeted for and it is alleged that he forged the signature of the Head of Department.
This is a very grave allegation and indeed criminal to forge a supervisor’s signature and if true would lead to serious sanctions.”, said Ssekaana.
He added that the arguments of Isabirye that the interdiction was malicious and oppressive are not valid since he is culpable for his conduct without excuses.
“The interdiction of the applicant was an exercise of discretion as the responsible officer deemed it necessary in the circumstances of this case and such exercise ought not to be disturbed. The purpose of the interdiction as noted herein is to prevent a repeat of the misconduct or interfering with investigations into the matter”, added Ssekaana.
According to the Judge, “the applicant’s demand that he should have been accorded a hearing before interdiction is also devoid of any merit. The right to be heard is only applicable during the investigation and formal disciplinary process once sanctioned”.
Justice Ssekaana dismissed the application for having been filed prematurely and condemned Isabirye to pay costs to the respondents.