Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga has found himself in trouble after a senior Minister insisted before the President that the controversial legislator is actually not academically qualified to sit in Parliament.
We have reliably established that during a recent meeting of West Nile leaders in State House, State Finance Minister Gabriel Ajedra clashed with Abiriga as a disinterested President Museveni looked on.
Abiriga started it all when he claimed, without any proof, that Ajedra was politically very poisonous because he sometimes works with opposition groups to undermine some NRM cadres in the region. It will be recalled Ajedra represented Arua Municipality (2011-2016) after defeating FDC’s Godi Akbar but fled the constituency on hearing Abiriga, who was RDC, was coming to stand.
Abiriga at that time was the very controversial Arua RDC whose populist stunts of fighting for the poor endeared him to many Arua voters. This made Ajedra realize that clearly there is no way he could defeat Abiriga.
To avoid political embarrassment, he relocated to a more remote constituency leaving Abiriga to trounce the FDC candidate. In the State House meeting, Museveni surprised many when he silenced Ajedra and instead defended Abiriga on the issue of qualifications.
He told the meeting that “the issue of Abiriga’s qualifications is sorted because he is an army Colonel which makes him qualified.”
Many Abiriga haters wondered what the basis of the President’s utterances was because Abiriga’s military qualifications are also disputed and can’t amount to an S6 equivalent. He was a private in Amin’s army and later spied on one of the rebel forces that Museveni liquidated in West Nile.
Many believe his Colonel rank is a honorary one and not based on any military heroic exploits on the front line. It’s said Museveni became very fond of Abiriga after he helped him infiltrate, spy and finish off one of the rebel groups in the West Nile that was headed by Ali Bamuze.
KARUGIRE COMES TO ABIRIGA RESCUE:
As we talk now, Abiriga, who is a self-confessed champion of the life presidency proposal, remains academically embattled as a public-spirited Ugandan in the names of Sam Ola remains determined to finish him off politically.
A Makerere law school graduate, Ola is currently into commercial livestock farming and in battling Abiriga; he is working with a powerful NRM local mobilizer in Arua who knows Abiriga pretty well having grown up with him.
On getting full details regarding inadequacies in Abiriga’s qualifications, Ola moved to privately have the public-urinating NRM MP prosecuted for criminal forgery. Originally, the matter was filed and prosecuted at Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court where it was filed as Miscellaneous Cause No. 004 of 2016.
Ola was represented by a city law firm called Anguria, Aogon & Co Advocates and still is. They are based on George Street opposite URSB and UNICEF and not far from Buganda Road Court. On the other hand, Abiriga is represented by city lawyer Edwin Karugire.
In his complaint on oath (equaling affidavit in civil matters), Ola says in March 2012, Abiriga (who lacks direct S6 qualifications and relies on equivalents) forged and uttered academic documents purporting to possess a certificate in public administration from UCU Arua Campus contrary to sections 347 & 351 of the Penal Code Act.
Ola adds that in March 1975, Abiriga forged and later on uttered false academic documents purporting to hold a diploma in public administration from UMI which is contrary to the same provisions of the PCA. That he uttered the said false documents to Badru Kiggundu’s EC and improperly got nominated to stand for MP seat in 2016.
Ola verified by writing to UMI and UCU whose academic registrars wrote back denying Abiriga’s academic documents. The UMI 19/1/2016 letter was signed by Institute Registrar Mary Basasa Muhenda showing “we have checked our records and failed to locate the particulars of a one Ibrahim Abiriga.”
She adds that the award given in the 1970s when Abiriga claims to have qualified at UMI was the “Postgraduate Diploma in Public Administration and not Diploma in Public Administration.” She adds it was jointly awarded by UMI (then called Uganda Institute of Public Administration) and Makerere University.
She finishes off Abiriga by stating: “The [joint] certificates were actually awarded by Makerere University and also printed by Makerere University [and not UMI as Abiriga’s disputed certificate shows].”
Muhenda’s one page letter was addressed to Eng Badru Kiggundu’s EC implying they shouldn’t have nominated Abiriga. He had relied on the impeached UMI qualification to claim he had the S6 equivalent whereas not.
The UCU letter, crucifying Abiriga, was signed by Rev Canon Dr. Olivia Nassaka Banja, the Director e-learning programs. It was addressed to the NRM EC whose lawyer Mubarak Kalungi had written seeking confirmation that the 2012 UCU Arua Campus certificate Abiriga presented for nomination was genuine.
The UCU boss replied as follows: “After thorough checking with all records at the University and consultation with Arua campus, I regret to inform you [NRM] that Mr. Abiriga did not study a two year certificate but attended a two months short course in Administrative Law and was awarded a certificate of attendance. Should you require further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me.”
Relying on this very indicting letter from UCU, the NRM EC Chairman Tanga initially refused to nominate Abiriga for NRM primaries. Abiriga ran to the Nakawa High Court whose resident judge (then) Musalu Musene issued him an order curiously compelling Tanga to nominate Abiriga.
The very talkative man from Kisoko then reluctantly nominated Abiriga for NRM primaries. When Kigundu finally hesitated to nominate Abiriga for MP Seat, the same judge wrote the January 5th 2016 letter arguing that the anti-Tanga order was equally applicable to the national EC.
Ola didn’t relent. He came up with fresh evidence which EC relied on to denominate Abiriga in the middle of the campaigns. After being denominated, Abiriga once again rushed to the Nakawa court instead of returning to school and make good on his academic deficiencies.
Court required EC to show up and defend its decision to denominate him and that day the EC lawyers didn’t turn up and the matter was heard ex-parte to EC’s detriment. That’s how Abiriga was once again forced into the MP race on orders of the Nakawa Court.
EC was even compelled to give him Shs80m in costs. Ola, who faced resistance from DPP whose office has lately been accused of shielding NRM MPs against criminal prosecution, soldiered on even after elections.
He kept pursuing the matter in the Nakawa Magistrates court insisting Abiriga must be convicted for criminal forgery.
Last week, the Nakawa Court dismissed the case politically citing lack of jurisdiction to try the powerful Abiriga.
This prompted Ola to file a criminal appeal in the High Court Kampala where he is yet to get a hearing date.