Fury as Bagyenda skips Parliamentary probe

Bank of Uganda’s former Executive Director in charge of Commercial Banks supervision Justine Bagyenda risks having a warrant of arrest issued against her for what is deemed to be contemptuous conduct towards the committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE).

On Thursday, the committee business was adjourned to today (Friday) to allow Bagyenda access her former office at Bank of Uganda (BOU) and help her successor, Tumubweine Twinemanzi to locate the 11 files containing the status report on the liquidation of Greenland Bank.

Bagyenda has for the past three days become the focus of the Parliamentary probe into the alleged irregular closure of seven commercial banks between 1993 and 2016.

While she was present during the committee hearing on Thursday, she never mentioned that would be unavailable for today’s hearing but sent a letter to committee chairman Abdu Katuntu informing him that she had taken a foreign trip but did not give details of her travel itinerary to the annoyance of the legislators.

MPs such as Paul Mugema (Iganga Municipality), Vincent Woboya (Budadiri East), Francis Mwijukye (Buhweju) among others expressed fears that Bagyenda could have fled the country to avoid the ongoing probe. Mugema cited the example of two police officers, Jonathan Baroza and Siraje Bakaleke who have become fugitives.

Some MPs pointed to a possibility that Bagyenda could have sneaked out of the country with some of the key documents relevant to the Parliamentary probe.

Indeed, Mwijukye claimed that there are reports indicating that Bagyenda on Sunday entered the Central Bank and picked some documents, and that the security had notified the Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile about the development.

Former Works Minister, Abraham Byandala (Katikamu North) said that the Committee should not accept officials to abuse the Parliamentary Rules and the Constitution, suggesting that Police committee should notify the police about Bagyenda’s fleeing to avoid the risk of creating more defiant government officials.

It was then that Katuntu gave her an ultimatum to appear on Tuesday next week lest, the committee will issue a warrant of arrest against her.

Former BOU Executive Director (Supervision) Justine Bagyenda appearing before COSASE

“I would have preferred to invoke powers for purposes of warrant of arrest which we do have, however, let us be conscious that there is always the first offence. This meeting is going to resume on Tuesday, summons issued to Bagyenda, if she doesn’t appear on Tuesday, we will be left with no option but issue warrant of arrest,” Katuntu said.

Under the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure, a committee of Parliament has powers of the High Court and can therefore cause for the arrest of uncooperative witnesses.

“If she doesn’t appear, an arrest warrant will automatically follow… Police, may you supply this Committee with details of Bagyenda travel as declared at immigrations,” Katuntu directed, adding that this was intended to send a lesson to other civil servants as well as protect the integrity of both the Committee and Parliament.