Officers of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and lawyers of city law firm Ssendege & Co. Advocates have been pinned in a plot to rake over Shs14Bn from the Authority’s coffer under the guise of legal costs and compensations.
This rip-off is entailed in a report released on July 01st, 2020 by the Kampala Capital City Public Accounts Committee Chairperson Bob Kabaziguruka, which exposes how KCCA officials are involved in obscene financial rot in almost all departments.
Kabaziguruka’s report states in part thus; “In the authority meeting held on 9th September 2019 Under Minute extract no. 133.4.8 of the Kampala Capital City Authority council, the Lord Mayor tasked CPAC to review the case files for Ms. Sendege Ssenyondo & Co. Advocates Vs. KCCA regarding the genuineness of the award of Shs.14Bn for legal services rendered to KCC/ KCCA and whether there was value for money.
M/s Ssendege, Ssneyondo and Co. Advocates was paid Shs14,971,118,538 for representing KCCA related cases.
During the Council meeting, KCCA Management through their legal counsel informed the meeting that Management wasn’t part on some of the consent agreements/judgments entered by M/s Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates on behalf of KCCA.
Basing on the above, it was recommended that CPAC reviews the case files to understand how the costs awarded to Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates were negotiated and agreed upon.
To obtain the information, we requested for the Legal Directorate to provide the following;
All Files relating to Ssendege And Co. Suit filed against KCCA
Consultations with the KCCA Legal Department
Physical KCCA Archive Search
All case files handled by Ssendege that were referred to in this suit
A summary of cases with consent judgments and without consent judgments plus amounts that were awarded.
A report/brief on this case and a summary of fees paid including associated certified Bill of Costs and a record of court proceedings on this case
The ledgers/ invoices showing previous payments to M/s Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates
Reports from Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates in regard to updates on cases/ files it handled.”
Genesis Of The Matter
The report continues that; “Before the establishment of the Legal Department at KCCA, M/s Sendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates served as legal counsel for KCC/KCCA since 11th October 1996. The contract was terminated in 2013 but Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates received the termination letter on 20th December 2015, which was two years after the terminations date.
Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates sought payment for services rendered to the institution but Management of KCCA was reluctant to pay for the services rendered despite several reminders. Along the way, KCCA sought advice of the Solicitor General that was not followed.
This led to Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates to seek redress from the courts of law under suit 147 of 2016.
With the chronology of the proceeedings/events, the case was ruled in favour of Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates and the Institution was to pay the bills of costs and related charges all to the tune of Shs14,971,118,538, without the costs which KCCA paid to Sebalu & Co. Advocates, who were counsel for Ssendege, Ssenyondo & Co. Advocates.”
KCCA Officials Deny CPAC Access To Legal Files
What raised eyebrows however was that when Kabaziguruka and his CPAC team request the KCCA Legal Directorate to avail them with documents concerning all the cases handled and involving Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates, they received none.
Kabaziguruka writes in his report that; “Among the suit cases handled by Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates were those that had been consented to through Management and those bore the signature of the Executive Director. While other consented cases, KCCA Management was not involved.
We were not availed with the summary of cases with consent judgments and without consent judgment plus the amounts that were involved.
We could substantiate the statement of KCCA legal counsel about the levels of consultation made in the circumstances where the M/s Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates was to consent on behalf of the Institution.
Management did not explain the authority M/s Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates had in respect of consent on behalf of KCCA.
The legal department did not avail us proof of communication from M/s Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates to KCCA in regard to any updates on court cases it was handling.”
The report also noted that their scope on audit in the matters involving Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates was limited because; “There were no records of ledgers/ invoices in the treasury department to confirm whether M/s Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates had never been paid since 01st January 1996 when he was contracted by KCCA.”
They also noted that; “From the search in the archives there was no documentary evidence of any payment to Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates.
KCCA Management did not avail the information that we requested for. Particularly, the summary of legal cases detailing the Case reference, details of the case, amount involved and mode of settlement.”
As a result of denial of access to vital documents, CPAC could not therefore;
Evaluate the value for money on the cases handled by Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates
Assess the impact of Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates consenting on behalf of KCCA without Management’s approval
Evaluate the value of Consent judgment vis-à-vis the value of the subject matter.
Know the level of completeness of these cases for which bills of costs were concluded.
According to CPAC therefore, KCCA could not adduce evidence of payment to Ssendege, Ssenyondo and Co. Advocates, hence there is a need to evaluate their archiving and storage system.
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