Thirteen Makerere University bank accounts have been frozen, Uganda Radio Network has learnt. The accounts according to the documents seen by this reporter were frozen following the university’s failure to pay its external lawyers, Kateera and Kagumire.

The Registrar for the High Court Execution Division, Isah Serunkuma issued the first garnishee orders on November 20, 2019. The order stemmed from a miscellaneous application filed by 13 Mulago Paramedical students who in 2011 sued Government over the delayed award of their diplomas and certificates.

The application was filed in Kampala High court on April 8th, 2019 by Joseph Kaddu, Faisal Nyanzi, and Daniel Kibombo and others who claimed the delayed award of the diploma and certificates had them of career opportunities. The paramedical school is an affiliate college of Makerere University. The applicants won the case and were awarded costs of Shillings 2.6billion.

However, the University failed to pay the money prompting court to issue garnishee orders to the applicants to attach money from the university bank accounts. In an order seen by URN, Shillings 1.5billion was attached from two University accounts and directed that the money be paid to Wambi & Co. Advocates on behalf of the students.

The account was short of 1.1billion. URN has also established that another 11 Makerere University Bank accounts were garnished on February 25th 2020 by bailiffs for the payment of another Shillings 2.3billion to Kateera & Kagumire Advocates.  A March 6, 2020 petition by Jane Atim, a staff of the university, the institution is in a dilemma of paying at least Shillings 5billion in court awards.

The petition was addressed to First lady and Education and Sports Minister, Janet Museveni and Makerere University Council Chairperson, Lorna Magara. The staff says majority of the frozen accounts are project accounts, which is likely to cause activity backlog and stalling of university businesses if not resolved early.

Some of the frozen accounts include the fees collection account, Salary Management account, Institute of Languages account, an account for the Department of Social Work and Social Administration, one account of Makerere University College of Health Sciences and another two accounts for the Gender Main Streaming Directorate all from Stanbic Bank. Also attached are four university accounts in Bank of Uganda.

On February 17, 2020, Yusuf Kiranda, the acting Makerere University Secretary was briefly detained for failure to respect a Court order to pay Shillings 175million as settlement fees for dismissal of guest house staff.  The affected workers were sacked after Makerere University Holdings Limited (Mak Holdings) that was established to manage commercial assets and interests of the University took over the Guest House.

The arrest warrant stemmed from an application filed by 23 Guest House workers led by Lorna Tusiime in the Kawempe Labour Court under Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).  “…these are to command you to arrest the accounting officer of Makerere University, the University Secretary Mr. Kiranda Yusuf and unless Makerere University shall pay to you the total sum of Ugx 175,000,000 together with the costs of executing this process, to bring the said person before court with all convenient speed,” reads arrest warrant in part.

Our reporter has established that as part of the settlement, the University paid Shillings 75million to have the University Secretary released. In their petition to the minister and university council, the staff say “the exorbitant losses above show the extent of financial irresponsibility, criminality and impunity in the university by the current administration.”

Adding that, “there seems to be a conspiracy involving top management officials and outside lawyers who represent the University or between the lawyers of the two parties to inflate legal costs for private gains at the expense of the University.”  The staff equally urge the University Council to handle every letter of intention to sue the University in addition to being updated at every sitting on the status of the existing court cases.

“…Otherwise garnishing Makerere University Bank accounts has just began and might extend to attachment of other University properties like buildings and land, which is already endangered. Council should engage parties in obvious cases against the University so that they are settled out of court,” says Otim, in a petition on behalf of concerned staff of Makerere University.

The Auditor General’s for the financial year ending June 30 2019, shows that Makerere University had contingent liabilities (court cases) amounting to Shillings 62billion. The staff, however say this money has increased as of now.

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By URN

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