Kampala Archbishop Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga has written a damning letter to President Yoweri Museveni accusing the Lead Counsel to the Land Commission of Inquiry of trying to steal Catholic Church funds. In his letter dated May 21, 2020, Dr. Lwanga narrates how Counsel Ebert Byenkya, who was part of President Museveni’s legal team in the 2011 Presidential Election petition, confused his (Dr. Lwanga’s) Vicar General to wire the church funds onto his law firm account.
The funds were part of the Compensation the Church was receiving from government for its land that was taken during the Construction of the Entebbe Expressway and the Munyonyo Spur. “To my surprise, while I was abroad on official duties Mr. Ebert Byenkya took advantage of the situation and convinced my Vicar General that the Archdiocese would miss out on the payment if his instructions were not reinstated which was not true.
The letter from Archbishop Lwanga highlighting how Counsel Bwenkya siphoned church funds
Furthermore, he went ahead and wrote to the Minister of Lands misguiding her still to transfer the church funds to his form account titled Byenkya, Kihika & Co. Advocates Beneficiary Bank in United Bank of Africa (Uganda) Ltd account number 016000879 at Jinja Road Branch which was not agreed upon in principal,” Dr. Lwanga wrote. He says he had withdrawn instructions from Byenkya’s law firm after being advised by President Museveni that it was strictly Government officials who handle presidential directives.
He says he was dismayed when Byenkya wrote to him a scathing letter dated April 9, 2019 attacking him for withdrawing instructions, reversing his decision to have church money paid through his law firm bank account. The prelate says Byenkya compounded his misery by demanding for 25% of the money the church had received.
“Though I had retracted his instructions, I did pay him on humanitarian grounds what I afforded but he has continuously kept harassing and humiliating me both in the newspapers and court tarnishing my name,” Dr. Lwanga pins Byenkya.
Apart from Byenkya, the archbishop reported other lawyers to the president and also forwarded to him their personal telephone numbers. These include Gordon Bainomugisha , Julius Galisonga whom he has never even met but had been recommended to him by one Martin Kasule.
Dr. Lwanga says Galisonga has been conniving with Lwanga Francis, a staff of Centenary Bank who keeps checking the church accounts and gives him details each time there is any transaction which Galisonga and group use to pressurise him and threatening his bankers so that they can block his (Lwanga’s) accounts.
He claims Byenkya despite receiving part of the church’s funds, he is still demanding Shs920.4m, Bainomugisha is demanding Shs3.4bn and Galisonga Shs5.29bn.
“Your Excellency, the above sums of money total to Shs9,618,136,235 out of the Shs17,630,120,185 which amounts to over 50% of the money the Government paid to the Church. If we paid out all that money, we would remain with nothing left to cater for our needs in the Archdiocese,” the Archbishop laments.
He says they had instructed Muhumbura & Co. Advocates to take on these lawyers but it seems to him, the matters will take long and the church might never get Justice. He says these court cases are putting his life in danger and also tarnishing the good image of government which seems to let go such forgeries. “I am therefore requesting you to bring the above mentioned lawyers to book after having misguided me through the whole process, intimidating me, putting me under unnecessary pressure and taking advantage of my lack of information about how government procedure operates,” he stated.