COVID-19 Pandemic: High Court in Uganda blocks allocation of 10bn Uganda shillings to legislators
The Civil Division of High Court has halted the dispensing of the controversial 10bn shillings to MPs by the Parliamentary Commission in a petition filed by the Ntugamo Member of Parliament, Gerald Karuhanga.
The High Court Civil Division Judge Esta Nambayo blocked the payment of this money to MPs until the court makes its final ruling and determination on the matter scheduled for 29 April 2020.
“That until the court hearing as determination of miscellaneous application No. 179 of 2020 the status quo to paragraphs 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the affidavit of Gerald Karuhanga sworn in support of this application be maintained i.e. the monies of UGX 10,000,000,000, (Uganda shillings Ten billion) appropriated to the 1st respondent (Parliamentary Commission) under the impugned amendment to the report of the Budget Committee in Supplementary Expenditure…..remain undistributed until the determination of miscellaneous application No. 197 of 2020, or if already paid, the Members of Parliament are ordered not to dissipate or spend the same until the hearing as a final determination of miscellaneous application No. 197 of 2020 or until further orders from this Honorable Court,” the court ruling stated.
The injunction follows a petition filed by the Ntugamo Municipality legislator, Gerald Karuhanga and his colleague Erute North legislator, Jonathan Odur on Tuesday 21 seeking an injunction of the 10bn Uganda shillings appropriated by the Parliamentary Commission to legislators to help them conduct COVID-19 awareness in their respective constituencies by the Civil Division of the High Court.
Odur and Karuhanga, through their lawyer David Kisiitu Mpanga of Mpanga and Company Advocates said the allocation of 10bn shillings to legislators is not only irregular, selfish but also irrational, given the current COVID-19 pandemic situation prevailing in the country.
Also, Mpanga argued that the Budget Committee sneaked the move to allocate money to legislators into Parliament and they were not allowed to debate on it.
Legislators were expecting the money in their accounts on Friday this week, but according to Odur, some legislators were pushing for the speedy release of the money before the timeline.
“Yesterday there was negotiations by some teams trying to push for those timelines to be waved. I am very grateful that it did not go through, otherwise, the money could have been paid yesterday,” Odur said.
In the court’s ruling, the Parliamentary Commission was ordered not to pay the money until the application is hard or if some have already received it, they should not touch the money.
“If members have received the money, then they better not use it, they better not use that money they keep it on their accounts because the court may decide otherwise any time,” Karuhanga said.
On 4th April 2020, Parliament passed a supplementary budget of 3004bn to fight COVID-19, the 10bn was deducted from the health supplementary budget to be given to legislators to the carryout awareness campaign on coronavirus in their respective constituencies. But in turn, the move caused anger among the public.