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A fight between lawyers at a top city law firm has opened a lid on corrupt Uganda law practitioners alleged involvement in corrupt deals, including benefiting from fictitious legal bills to Makerere University and other public bodies.Corrupt Uganda law practitioners

Justinian Kateera, the son of departed prominent lawyer, Jonathan Kateera accuses Yusufu Kagumire, John Fisher Kanyemibwa, Noel Muhangi, Dennis Wamala and Pope Ahimbisibwe conniving with Makerere University and other government institutions to lose court cases so as to profit from costs.

“There were several inflated and fictitious legal bills presented for payment in 2019.  The said legal bills were not reflected in the previous years’ (2018) audit reports as a debt and seemed to have been expedited through the Courts,” said Kateera.

He also gave another example of Kaddu Joseph & others v. Makerere University whereby the plaintiffs sued the university over the delay to award diplomas from the yet to be affiliated Paramedical School.

“They were awarded an unjustified and exorbitant amount of 2.3 billion shillings. The lawyers (Kateera & Kagumire Advocates) failed or connived with the plaintiffs not to defend the university, present the appeal or seek a stay of execution pending the hearing of the appeal, resulting in a loss of 2.2 billion shillings,” said Kateera.

He further said Kateera & Kagumire Advocates refused, neglected or colluded not to attend the garnishee proceedings.

“Consequently, a garnishee decree absolute was granted against Makerere accounts held at Stanbic Bank resulting in the loss of 1.4 billion and attachment for the additional sum of 800 million shillings. Despite admitting this loss, they did not invoke professional indemnity insurance or in any other way compensate for the loss of the said funds,” said Kateera.

Kateera & Kagumire Advocates on Friday denied the accusations, saying Kateera was “dismissed for gross misconduct” and that he was apparently on a “mission to destroy the firm for dismissing him and refusing to admit him as a partner in the firm which according to him was founded by his father and therefore owes him partnership as an entitlement.”

The troubled law firm further said the “malicious defamatory statements are part of his mission to malign the integrity of the firm and reputation of its partners. As part of his malicious campaign, he has caused various investigations to be initiated against the firm.”

The media understands Education Minister Janet Museveni recently ordered an investigation into the fictitious legal bills at Makerere University, leading to the arrest of the bursar and other officials.

Kateera has since attached documents as evidence to substantiate his claims. He also gave another example of Sendagala & others v. Makerere University, a matter involving the encroachment and occupation of several plots of university land.

Kateera said lawyers under Kateera & Kagumire Advocates, acting in collusion, created a totally fraudulent bill of 2.34 billion shillings.

“The fraud was perpetrated by creating a fake subject matter value of 74- 100 billion shillings on the basis of an affidavit sworn by Yusufu Kagumire stating that valuation was justified since he is a ‘seasoned conveyancer’. The university (Makerere) officials did not dispute this fraud and permitted the Court to approve the bill 7 of costs in their absence.”

Kateera also said another 3 billion shillings is claimed for other cases despite the internal audit and Auditor General report reporting figures which are far below this.

The said legal bills were expedited through the Court system and the garnishee proceedings that led to the freezing of the accounts were not defended.

“Obviously, the 13 bank accounts would not have been known to the external lawyers. When the accounts were frozen, the respondents entered into an extortionate memorandum of understanding forcing the university to pay the money in instalments of 3 billion and 2.4 billion over a short period of time,” said Kateera.

He also cites another case – Dison Okumu & others V. UEB (in liquidation) whereby UETCL, UEDCL and UEGCL former employees sued for terminal after they were laid following the restructuring brought on by the unbundling of UEB into transmission, distribution and generation entities.

The Government entered into a consent agreement for 46 billion.

Kateera said the lawyers under Kateera & Kagumire Advocates connived and received over 6 billion in fees as opposed to 460,000,000 (1% as per the rules).

“This is almost 14 times more than is permitted and represents a colossal loss of public funds. But the 3rd respondent (Noel Muhangi) on behalf of all respondents again claimed 6.7 billion for the defence of an appeal that was dismissed for being res judicata. In any case, the appeal 8 concerned the legal costs of 8 billion. I was anonymously informed of an investigation regarding the matter. The official receiver in charge of UEB has written to state that the fees should be 90 million rather than 6.7 billion. There is a further charge of 1.4 billion claimed against UETCL,” said Kateera.

 Below is Kateera’s petition to the law council:

1 THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA IN THE MATTER OF THE ADVOCATES ACT, 1970 AND IN THE MATTER OF DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS AGAINST YUSUFU KAGUMIRE, JOHN FISHER KANYEMIBWA, NOEL MUHANGI, DENNIS WAMALA AND POPE AHIMBISIBWE PETITIONER’S STATEMENT

  1. I am an adult Ugandan of sound mind, a lawyer by profession and the son of the Late Jonathan Kateera. 2. I further depone in my capacity as a citizen committed to the public interest.
  2. The Late Jonathan Kateera is the founder and one of the registered proprietors of Kateera & Kagumire Advocates (hereinafter referred to as the partnership).
  3. That Yusufu Kagumire (hereinafter referred to as the 1nd respondent) is an adult Ugandan of sound mind and an advocate.
  4. That John Fisher Kanyemibwa, Dennis Wamala, Noel Muhangi and Pope Ahimibisibwe are adult Ugandans of sound mind and are lawyers by profession.(They are hereinafter referred to as the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th respondents respectively.
  5. That Kateera & Kagumire Advocates was a partnership consisting entirely of the Late Jonathan Kateera and Yusufu Kagumire.
  6. The 1st respondent is the second and only surviving partner of Kateera & Kagumire Advocates.
  7. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th respondents were recruited and entered into their own partnership after the dissolution of the prior partnership (Kateera & Kagumire Advocates).
  8. At all material times, the respondents purportedly carried on business under the name of Kateera & Kagumire Advocates.
  9. That I practiced under the 1st respondent from December 2017.
  10. For the purposes of clarity, I will present my evidence under separate headings and paragraphs as hereunder.

HISTORY

  1. Kateera & Kagumire Advocates was incorporated after the dissolution of Hunter & Grieg Advocates.

The latter was established in Kampala in 1903.

  1. Jonathan Kateera studied law at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth from 1962 to 1965, completed and qualified as a Barrister of the Supreme Court of England and Wales in 1966 and graduated with a Masters in Law from Harvard Law School in 1967.

He joined Hunter & Greig Advocates in 1967 and worked there until the day of his death on September 1995.

  1. By 1970, all the British nationals who practiced at Hunter & Greig had left Uganda. Kateera was joined by Chris Kasibayo in 1972 soon after his qualification as Solicitor of the Courts of England and Wales.

The firm was registered in the names of Kateera & Kasibayo Advocates.

Gideon Akankwasa joined in or about 1974. He had graduated with a degree in Law from the University of East Africa (Dar-es-Salaam). Yusufu Kagumire joined in 1978 from the Ministry of Lands.

  1. Gideon Akankwasa was assassinated outside his home in 1984. Chris Kasibayo passed on after a medical mishap in a London Hospital in 1986.
  2. Kateera & Kagumire Advocates was registered in August 1994 with the 2 named advocates as partners.
  3. Jonathan Kateera passed on after suffering a cardiac arrest on the morning of the 16th of September 1995.
  4. Following the death of Jonathan Kateera, the partnership was dissolved by law pending the settlement of outstanding matters.
  5. However, the partnership in the above names has subsisted under the name and registration of Jonathan Kateera and Yusufu Kagumire.
  6. From 1995 to 2020, Yusufu Kagumire has recruited the 2nd , 3 rd, 4th and 5th respondents who at all times have purported to practice under the dissolved name of Kateera & Kagumire Advocates.
  7. That at the time of the death of my father, I was a student commencing my second year.

I completed a Law degree at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and qualified as a Barrister of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.

I obtained a Masters of Advanced studies in Oil and Gas from the Graduate Institute of International and Development studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

I obtained a Masters in Law from Georgetown University and a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. 22. I worked for several years as a Lawyer and Diplomat in the United Kingdom and in Geneva, Switzerland.

  1. I finally returned to Uganda in 2016. In 2017, I joined Yusufu Kagumire in chambers.
  2. I enjoyed cordial and professional relationships with the respondents.
  3. I was nevertheless concerned about serious fraud and ethical violations which I brought to the attention of the head of chambers, Yusufu Kagumire.
  4. I engaged him on several occasions in his office and at his home on the several concerns and the need to maintain integrity in keeping with the values that had distinguished and maintained the practice as I had grown up knowing it.
  5. He often said that he was not aware of the problems and promised to resolve them. He also commiserated that he had been betrayed, abused and defrauded by his nephew Noel Muhangi.
  6. He also stated that Dennis Wamala, who he had recruited as a favour to his mother, was rude, fraudulent and ungrateful.
  7. He also said that he was particularly hurt by the betrayal of John Fisher Kanyemibwa who had allied with the aforementioned lawyers to undermine him and defraud clients.
  8. He also stated that he was forced to withdraw large sums of money as a kick back to officials from Makerere University, UETCL, UEB (in liquidation) and United Bank of Africa but that he was unaware of the how the matters had been handled or funds received.
  9. I explained to him that he bore responsibility under the Anti-Money Laundering Act and generally since he was the Managing Partner. I further explained that Kateera should not be held responsible for the fraud committed by Muhangi, Wamala and Kanyemibwa.
  10. We had a further 5 hour meeting at his home in the first week of October 2020 where we discussed all the matters of concern including the allegations of fraud in relation to Makerere University, Uganda Virus Research Institute, International Aids Vaccine Initiative, United Bank of Africa, UETCL and UEB (in liquidation).
  11. I further explained that I had been approached by his children and brother in law who happened to be the Regional Director of the International Aids Vaccine Initiative.
  12. He reiterated that, after the principled support and sacrifice of the early 80s including the incarceration of all partners and the assassination of Gideon Akankwasa, he did not intend to embarrass the President, Minister of Education and the Government by closing, defrauding and extorting the University.
  13. The matters of concern are explained below

MAKERERE UNIVERSITY

  1. The Partnership has represented the University for several decades.
  2. Recently, there was a petition sent to the First Lady/ Minister of Education alleging fraud, collusion and corruption leading to the loss of billions of shillings and the freezing of operations. (A copy of the press reports are attached herewith)
  3. I was concerned about the allegations and the fact that it imputed fraud to the Late Jonathan Kateera who had passed away 25 years earlier without a blemish on his record and who had always acted with honesty and integrity.
  4. I reiterated his need to clarify and to disassociate us from this fraud. He said that he was not aware of the allegations and promised to inquire further.

He also stated that he would never have authorised the freezing of university accounts at this sensitive time and understood that it would cause social and political unrest.

  1. I asked him to write an explanation to the First Lady/Minister of Education in response to the petition. He refused to do so. I asked him repeatedly but he declined.
  2. However, at our next discussion, he stated that he had been confused and brushed off by Kanyemibwa, Muhangi and Wamala regarding the Makerere matters.
  3. I again reiterated to him that the respondents should practice in their own names to avoid false attribution. He spoke nostalgically about the history and friendship over the years and that he intended to retain that memory hence the insistence.

NAME

  1. I also told him that retaining the name was illegal and damaging. It was also tantamount to appropriation and hijacking. I further stated that I had a right to act if the name was being besmirched by the actions of the 2nd, 3rd and 4 th respondents.
  2. I consulted several senior retired members of the judiciary and family friends who insisted that I disassociate myself from the respondents.
  3. I have since established some of the circumstances surrounding the Makerere matter. It is as follows; (i) There were several inflated and fictitious legal bills presented for payment in 2019.

The said legal bills were not reflected in the previous years’ (2018) audit reports as a debt and seemed to have been expedited through the Courts.

(ii) In Kaddu Joseph & others v. Makerere University, the plaintiffs sued the university over the delay to award diplomas from the yet to be affiliated Paramedical School.

They were awarded an unjustified and exorbitant amount of 2.3 billion shillings. The lawyers failed or connived with the plaintiffs not to defend the university, present the appeal or seek a stay of execution pending the hearing of the appeal, resulting in a loss of 2.2 billion shillings.

They refused, neglected or colluded not to attend the garnishee proceedings.

Consequently, a garnishee decree absolute was granted against Makerere accounts held at Stanbic Bank resulting in the loss of 1.4 billion and attachment for the additional sum of 800 million shillings.

Despite admitting this loss, they did not invoke professional indemnity insurance or in any other way compensate for the loss of the said funds.

(iii) In Sendagala & others v. Makerere University, a matter involving the encroachment and occupation of several plots of university land.

The lawyers, acting in collusion, created a totally fraudulent bill of 2.34 billion shillings.

The fraud was perpetrated by creating a fake subject matter value of 74- 100 billion shillings on the basis of an affidavit sworn by Yusufu Kagumire stating that valuation was justified since he is a ‘seasoned conveyancer’.

The university officials did not dispute this fraud and permitted the Court to approve the bill 7 of costs in their absence.

(See a copy of the affidavit of Kagumire and the order of court obtained in the absence of the lawyers for the University).

(iv) Another 3 billion is claimed for other cases despite the internal audit and Auditor General report reporting figures which are far below this;

(v) The said legal bills were expedited through the Court system; (vi) The garnishee proceedings that led to the freezing of the accounts were not defended.

(vii) Obviously, the 13 bank accounts would not have been known to the external lawyers.

(viii) When the accounts were frozen, the respondents entered into an extortionate memorandum of understanding forcing the university to pay the money in instalments of 3 billion and 2.4 billion over a short period of time. (a draft copy of the MOU signed by MAK and the external lawyers is attached here) UEB (IN LIQUIDATION) AND UETCL

  1. In Dison Okumu & others V. UEB (in liquidation), UETCL, UEDCL and UEGCL the former employees sued for terminal after they were laid following the restructuring brought on by the unbundling of UEB into transmission, distribution and generation entities.

The Government entered into a consent agreement for 46 billion. The respondents herein connived and received over 6 billion in fees as opposed to 460,000,000 (1% as per the rules).

This is almost 14 times more than is permitted and represents a colossal loss of public funds.

  1. But the 3rd respondent on behalf of all respondents again claimed 6.7 billion for the defence of an appeal that was dismissed for being res judicata. In any case, the appeal 8 concerned the legal costs of 8 billion.

I was anonymously informed of an investigation regarding the matter.

The official receiver in charge of UEB has written to state that the fees should be 90 million rather than 6.7 billion.

There is a further charge of 1.4 billion claimed against UETCL.

UGANDA VIRUS RESEARCH INSTITUTE/ MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL. INTERNATIONAL AIDSVACCINE INITIATIVE AND NAMED SCIENTISTS 48.

There was a Human Rights Petition filed in the Ugandan High Court (ref: No. 305 of 2017: Harriet Mukoda (alias naigaga hanifa) v. IAVI, MRC, UVRI and others1 ) in which the petitioner brought a claim for over 43,000,000,000 (forty three billion shillings) alleging violations of her right to life, health, access to health information and freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment arising out of her alleged enrolment in a simulated behavioural HIV vaccine trial using the Hepatitis B vaccine as a proxy.

And that as a result, she altered her behaviour leading to a hepatitis infection.

  1. We argued that the said petition was obviously contrived, false and only brought for the purposes of extorting IAVI, MRC, UVRI and to besmirch the named eminent scientists engaged in research intended to combat the deadly HIV virus.

The case was dismissed by the presiding Judge.

He found that she gave her fully informed consent Harriet Mukoda (alias naigaga hanifa) v. International Athereids Vaccine Initiative, Uganda National Health Research Organisation, Uganda Virus Research Institute, Medical Research Council, MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS, Prof. Kaleebu Pontiano, Dr. Anatoli Kamali, Dr. Edward Katongole Mbidde, Dr. Gershim Asiki, Dr. Matt Price, Dr. Yunia Mayanja and Dr. Gertrude Namale.

and was infected with the HBV virus prior to enrolment. (A full copy of the judgment is available)

  1. At all times, the respondents represented MRC/UVRI and some of the respondents (hereinafter referred to as MRC/UVRI).

Whereas IAVI, Dr. Kamali and Dr. Matt Price (hereinafter referred to as IAVI) were represented by ENS Africa Advocates.

  1. The respondents nevertheless made an exorbitant and fraudulent bill against the UVRI, MRC, IAVI and the named scientists.

I stated that it is not only contrary to the Advocates Remuneration Rules but was manifestly excessive, extortionate and wrong in principle for:

  • The subject matter value which is being claimed is arbitrary, unjustified, wrong and cannot form the basis for an award of costs; (ii) Alternatively, damages which is the proper basis were not awarded to the petitioner.
  • (iii) That UVRI, MRC, UVRI and the medical researchers involved are being effectively punished in costs for the successful defence of the petition;
  • (iv) That the claim against IAVI is double billing and to that extent dishonest; (v) The firm was not instructed by IAVI and only drafted an affidavit for Dr. Kamali;
  • (vi) The affidavit in support by John Fisher Kanyemibwa (drafted for him by Dennis Wamala) contains deliberate falsehood in that: (a) It falsely alleges that I was recruited as a consultant at Kateera & Kagumire on behalf of the respondents on the basis of my expertise in global health law and policy;
  • 10 (b) That Prof. Ponsiano Ocama was recruited as a consultant; (
  • c) The deponent did not have personal conduct of the case and did not play any role in the interviews of the experts, preparation and presentation of the case and therefore his evidence cannot be relied upon in supporting he application
  1. I stated that if the costs were awarded, it would set a dangerous precedent for extortionate and manifestly fraudulent claims being brought against medical research institutions and personnel with grave and chilling consequences for public health and access to medicine.

Alternatively, the genuine victims of rights abuses will be stifled and denied access to justice by the precedent of such a chilling and excessive award.

  1. I further wrote that the award of costs of 2,000,000,000 shillings against the obviously impecunious petitioner was intended as a bait and switch, a particularly sharp practice by the 3rd and 4th respondents with the support of the 2nd respondent as stated to me by the 1st respondent.
  2. The costs application was an attack on the Government of Uganda’s (through UVRI) commitment to promote and protect public health, especially in view of the difficult circumstances that UVRI plays in fighting the pandemic and its role in leading clinical trials into the development of a vaccine.
  3. The claim against UVRI will lead to bankruptcy, unemployment and the departure of key partners due to legal risk posed by this precedent.

I know that the Medical Research Council is in the process of withdrawing from Uganda.

  1. In fulfilment of my duties as an advocate and considering the damage to my name by the actions of the respondents, on the 7th of December 2020, I wrote to the aforementioned respondents to the petition.
  2. As a result of the letter, the 1st respondent purported to dismiss me from his employment.

QUALIFICATIONS

  1. I am informed by Prof. George Kanyeihamba, which information I believe to be true, that Yusufu Kagumire is not a holder of a law degree.

I am now informed that he received a diploma in law from Nsamizi Training Institute.

  1. I know from my training, that the lack of a law degree would not render him eligible for practice as an advocate.
  2. That the statements herein above made are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief, except for information which sources are revealed. STATED at Kampala by the ) Said JUSTINIAN KATEERA ) ______________ This…………day of ……… ……………………2021. ) DECLARANT Filed by: JUSTINIAN KATEERA P.O.Box 70370 KAMPALA

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