Anti-Corruption Court on Friday directed former Principal Accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister, Geoffrey Kazinda to pay Shs 77m to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Pius Bigirimana.
This resulted after the jailbird lost a defamation case he had filed against Bigirimana.
Early 2015 Kazinda sued Bigirimana, Deft Publishers and Julius Seremba for publishing a book titled, ‘Corruption, a Tale of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing.’
While launching the book at Imperial Royale Hotel, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni explained why he is stuck with Bigirimana whose name had been earlier dragged into the OPM scam that ripped apart the nation.
Museveni maintained that because of his boldness to expose thieves like Kazinda and a racket of other beneficiaries in government ministries, Bigirimana had amassed several enemies who perceived him as a threat.
In the book the man from Kisoro writes about a chain of corrupt civil servants who have succeeded in plundering the country.
Kazinda sought a court order stopping any ‘further publication, circulation, distribution or sale of the book’, arguing it was ‘contemptuous and subjudice to criminal cases in the Anti-Corruption Court.’
At the time, Kazinda had just been convicted by Anti-Corruption Court of abuse of office, forgery and unlawful possession of government stores in the widely-publicized OPM corruption scandal.
Kazinda wanted court to issue a warrant of arrest for Bigirimana and a compensation of Shs 6bn for what he said was damage to his reputation.
In his defence, Bigirimana said he was not bound by any law from “making a publication or commentary about crimes which have been investigated by authorised government bodies with decisive finality even when a trial has been concluded and convictions handed down”.
Bigirimana further submitted to court that Kazinda’s application was “soaked in a foam of comedy and only reflective of the applicant’s undying desire to keep my name and reputation within reach of his mischief.”
The PS went ahead to argue that his book, which provided a chronological trail of the OPM scandal, only concentrates on the findings of the Auditor General who is “constitutionally mandated to interest himself with use or misuse of public resources and make annual findings to parliament to that effect.”
According to the Auditor General’s report, 2012, Kazinda was found liable of forging security papers thus causing financial loss to the OPM and government of Uganda.
Bigirimana insisted that his book was “entirely formed by my wealth of experience as a seasoned public servant and my account of events leading to how the Uganda Police unearthed the applicant’s covertly orchestrated illicit transactions for which he stood trial and for which he was convicted.”
To prove that he was defamed and embarrassed by the book, Kazinda had to demonstrate to court that he had a reputation to keep.
He had earlier been convicted by Justice Wangutusi.
Through his lawyers, Kanduho & CO. Advocates, the PS said Kazinda had not been put to mental torture as alleged since a competent court of law “made a finding of fact and convicted him for offences entirely impeaching his moral turpitude,”
He added: “I wish to state that the applicant got his constitutional right to presumption of innocence vitiated when a conviction was handed against his name with regard to 29 counts all of which brought his moral turpitude to ashes.”
Sensing the possibility of a loss, Kazinda withdrew his case on July 1, 2015 in the presence of both parties’ lawyers.
But the High Court awarded costs of Shs 77m to Bigirimana. The costs include attendance of court, transport and legal fees.
Additional reporting from Chimpreports.