COSASE Hands Lawyer Patrick Kiconco to Parliamentary Police Over Alleged Shs 39Bn Meant for Tea Nursery Operators

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KAMPALA – The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE) has handed the city lawyer Patrick Kiconco Katabaazi, a partner at Pathway Advocates to Parliamentary Police Over allegations of misappropriation of Shs 39 billion intended for Kigezi region tea nursery bed operators.

The decision follows a meeting on August 10, 2023, with Samuel Mugasi, the Executive Director of the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS). COSASE is currently reviewing the Auditor General’s report on NAADS’ financial statements for the 2021/2022 fiscal year.

Farmers have accused Pathway Advocates of not fully compensating them, contrary to Kiconco’s claims in his accountability reports to NAADS.

For instance, Kiconco asserted that he paid Shs 150,928,485 to Sirajje Mastiko, yet the farmer’s bank statement showed only Shs 105 million received. Similarly, Kiconco reported paying Henry Tukahirwa Shs 24,298,160, but only Shs 11 million was received by the farmer, and Shs 22,417,559 was debited back to the law firm’s account on the same day.

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On August 10th, Kiconco was scheduled to appear before the committee but sent his colleague, Asiimwe Mugumya, who was rejected by the committee.

According to the Auditor General’s report, NAADS disbursed Shs 39 billion to Pathways Advocates as compensation for tea nursery operators who had taken legal action against the government for failing to procure their seedlings.

Mugasi presented evidence that NAADS provided funds to Pathways Advocates in two installments: Shs 27 billion and Shs 12 billion.

Hon. Eddie Kwizera of Bukimbiri County raised concerns about beneficiaries from Kisoro not receiving the funds as expected.

Mugasi responded that he was unaware and suggested that Kiconco provide the information.

The Committee’s lead, Hon. Ronald Ndyomugenyi the Rukiga County Member of Parliament, stated that while NAADS had evidence of disbursing funds to Pathways Advocates, the farmers had not been adequately compensated.

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He noted that the lawyer’s accountability lacked specific details for each farmer, prompting the Committee’s Vice Chairperson, Hon. Lucy Akello, to summon Kiconco to appear before the committee on August 15, 2023.

Akello accused NAADS of not ensuring proper accountability of the funds distributed by Pathways Advocates, stressing that NAADS holds the responsibility to verify that the farmers have indeed received the money.

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