OPM SCANDAL: Kazinda to stay in Jail
eoffrey Kazinda, the former Principal Accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is to stay in jail serving his fifteen-year sentence that was handed to him late last year after he was convicted on charges of illicit enrichment.
This follows a recent Supreme Court judgement issued Friday in which the highest court in the country allowed an application of stay of execution of the constitutional court judgement in which all corruption proceedings against Mr. Kazinda were permanently stayed.
Mr. Kazinda who was first arraigned in court in 2013 on account of the ‘OPM scandal’ in which at least UGX 60 billion was stolen has been battling corruption related charges since then but had received a victory in the constitutional court on 8 August 2020 through a court order that all these proceedings be stayed.
The constitutional court had also issued a permanent prohibition against the state from initiating and prosecuting Mr. Kazinda for any offence of similar character or facts arising out of or in connection with his former employment as Principal Accountant, Office of the Prime Minister.
Moreover, the Judgement rendered sections 29 and 30 of the Trial on Indictment Act which deal with the possibility of a person to be tried again for a separate offence they might have been charged with on a former trial but the consequences supervening or not known at time of the former trial, unconstitutional.
Sections 89, 90 and 91 of the Magistrate Courts Act- quite similar to the impugned sections of the Trial on Indictment Act were also declared contrary to the Constitution.
However, dissatisfied with the judgement, government in an application filed 28 August 2020 sought to stay execution of this judgement on grounds that it has a crippling effect on the criminal justice system in Uganda by nullifying the impugned provisions of the Trial on Indictment Act and Magistrate Courts Act.
This, according to government had the effect of curtailing the fight against corruption.
In his response, Mr. Kazinda who argued his case himself, pleaded that the attempt by government to ‘hoodwink’ court to stay execution of the judgement was merely a ploy to prosecute him using a withdrawn appeal that would never see court as the time frame (50 days after lodging notice of appeal) within which an appeal could be instituted had elapsed minus the appeal’s institution which amounted to withdrawal of the appeal.
Now, the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of government by allowing its application to stay execution of the constitutional court judgement that ordered for the stay of all corruption proceedings against Kazinda effectively freeing him.
In regard to Mr. Kazinda’s complaint about failure on the part of government to institute an appeal within the stipulated time frame, court has ruled that a notice of appeal suffices.
Moreover, court ordered that since the intended appeal involves matters of significant public importance and raises several constitutional issues that warrant consideration, but also that court has a duty to ‘safeguard the right of appeal’ and ensure that the intended appeal if successful is not declared nugatory, the intended appeal be instituted without delay.
Mr. Geoffrey Kazinda therefore continues to stay in jail serving his 15-year sentence upon conviction by the Anti- Corruption Court for illicit enrichment including his alleged unexplainable possession of wealth amounting to shs. 4.6 billion.