|Gilbert Bukenya denies the charges and says he awarded the tender with approval from President Museveni [EPA]
Uganda’s former vice-president has been remanded in prison after an anti-corruption court ruled that he was involved in fraudulent practice during preparations for a Commowealth summit, loca media reported.
Gilbert Bukenya, 62, was vice-president from 2003 until 2011 when he was dropped from cabinet.
The semi-independent Daily Monitor newspaper reported that Bukenya was remanded on Monday in connection with the award of a contract to supply cars for the summit in the capital Kampala in 2007.
Bukenya chaired a cabinet subcommittee that organised the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and allegedly influenced awarding of the tender to MotorCare-Uganda, which supplied 204 executive vehicles at an inflated cost of $3.2m.
Car dealers that offered to supply the cars at a lower cost were ignored in the tendering process, according to prosecution.
Prosecutors say Bukenya acted “unlawfully and high-handedly” and in total disregard of the regulations governing public procurement.
Bukenya, a former academic and medical doctor, denies the charges and insists Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, approved the deal.
The biennial summit, attended by the Queen of England and heads of government from Commonwealth countries, was the first to be held in east Africa.
Daily Monitor said Bukenya, an MP from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), shed tears as he was led out of the court and his supporters hurled abuse at the security personnel comprising the police and plain-clothed officers.
Bukenya’s lawyer, Macdusman Kabega, had raised objections to the cancellation of his client’s bail but the magistrate overruled him.
“The accused person [Bukenya] is hereby committed to the High Court. His bail elapses. You are remanded to custody,” Irene Akankwasa, the magistrate, declared in a fully packed court room, according to the Independent news magazine.
Corruption in Uganda reaches ministerial level and Museveni’s government is accused by the opposition of lacking political will to tackle the problem.
Although Museveni, who has ruled the east African nation for 25 years, has been forced by Western donor nations to prosecute corrupt officials, critics say the campaign against graft is selective and targets people without “political advantage”.