The Former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Uganda Airlines Cornwell Muleya has told Buganda Road Magistrates Court that he has never defied the summons from the Inspectorate of Government requiring him to record a statement on matters related to corruption.
Muleya made this defence on Friday while appearing before Grade One Magistrate Asuman Muhumuza, having been found with a case to answer on the offense of disobedience of lawful orders.
The Court about two weeks ago while relying on the testimony of three Prosecution witnesses found Muleya with a case to answer. As a result, Muleya was asked to defend himself over the allegations that had been levied against him by the IGG’s office which is being represented by State Attorney Rogers Kinobe in this case.
The allegations were that on May 23, 2022, the Inspectorate of Government summoned Muleya to provide documents regarding mismanagement of Public funds, procurements, and recruitment of staff at Uganda Airlines. It was further alleged by the witnesses that even though other staff of Uganda Airlines successfully recorded statements, efforts to get Muleya were futile despite the fact that his phone details kept showing that he was in the country.
The IGG’s witnesses indicated that Muleya had failed to show up without any justifiable reason, prompting them to arrest him on June 22nd, 2022 for disobeying lawful summons.
But on Friday when Muleya started his defense, he told the Magistrates Court that he did not disobey any lawful orders from the IGG as he had not seen any summons until May 24th 2022, when he was reviewing his emails and saw an email in the junk box from a one G. Achan with an attachment of witness summons requiring him report to IGG’s office on June 1st 2022.
Muleya explained that he needed to verify the authenticity of the said summons since the copy of the mail never showed details of the sender nor the subject matter to be discussed about and he had been asked to carry with him his passport, an issue he said made him get surprised as a foreigner on what it was needed for.
He said he also wondered why the IGG had not brought the summons to his home yet it is known to them.
Accordingly, Muleya has told court that he later instructed his lawyer Charles Nsubuga to help him understand what is it exactly the IGG wanted to meet him for, yet the subject matter is before the High Court.
Muleya said his lawyers then wrote to the IGG on May 27th 2022 and their letter was received by the IGG on May 31st 2022.
The Court has heard that Muleya tried following up with his lawyers to find out if they had obtained any feedback from the IGG but they reportedly informed him that there was no response.
According to Muleya, he then proceeded with his earlier scheduled program of travelling to South Africa and Dubai where he had meetings to attend to between June 7th and 14th 2022.
He noted that prior to his travel, he got a call from people who purportedly identified themselves to be from IGG’s office saying they had other witness summons for him but he told them that he had a trip and would only be available after two weeks.
That however, when Muleya returned from Dubai, he was sickly and visited Mulago National Referral Hospital which diagnosed him with hypertension and gave him four types of medicine to swallow for ten days shortly after managing his pressure with a drip because it was reportedly high.
According to Muleya, the Doctor at Mulago who attended to him put him on bed rest for ten days as he took his medicine from his home in Entebbe and when he regained strength after like a week, he decided to go to Victoria Mall to buy some pain killers.
The Court has heard that this is when Muleya was grabbed from his vehicle by three people who said they had arrested him for disobedience of lawful orders.
Muleya said he was quickly taken to IGG’s office where he recorded a witness statement and later brought before the Court for plea taking.
To prove his testimony, Muleya has submitted before Court a copy of his passport to show stamps of how he exited Entebbe and entered South Africa and accessed Dubai before returning back to Uganda at around the time he told the IGG that he was away.
He has also submitted documents from International Medical Clinic -IMC , Mulago National Referral Hospital and electronic receipts from Emirates Airways to prove his case.
The 50 year old Zambian National Muleya has now asked the Court to dismiss the charges against him saying the IGG misunderstood the communication to verify the authenticity of the summons issued to him.
The Magistrate Muhumuza has thus fixed October 28th 2022 to deliver his judgement in the case on whether to convict Muleya or set him free.
Muleya is currently out on bail.
On April 21st, 2021, the Works and Transport Minister, Edward Katumba Wamala sent Muleya and 12 other top officials of the airline on forced leave on the orders of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to pave way for investigations into allegations of financial mismanagement, collusion, and nepotism in staff recruitment among other issues.
In February 2022, the Works and Transport Ministry Permanent Secretary terminated Muleya’s contract forcing him to file a complaint with Wakiso District Labour Office on April 4th, 2022 citing unlawful termination of his contract.
However, the labor office referred the matter in which Muleya is seeking more than Shillings 3 billion to the industrial court.
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