Court Upholds Dismissal of Civil Aviation Official

According to the complaint, the prescribed mask was N95 whose open market price was 150,000 shillings for each box yet Siiku purchased each box at 260,000 Shillings.
Civil AviationAuthority offices in Entebbe
The High Court in Kampala has upheld the decision to dismiss Muzamil Siiku the Senior Administration and Estates Officer at Uganda Civil Aviation Authority for causing loss of more than 20 million shillings while purchasing Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment.

According to the Judgement issued by the Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana, the decision by UCAA’s Executive Committee of Management to dismiss Siiku was proper and justified in the circumstances prevailing at that time.

The court records show that on March 6, 2020, Siiku received 44.3 Million shillings for the purchase of masks and gloves.

But the Director of Airport and Aviation Security on March 20 2020 made a complaint to the Director-General saying that there was open connivance to defraud the UCAA in an attempt to safeguard the health of workers against the COVID-19 and that the prices of masks had been inflated.

According to the complaint, the prescribed mask was N95 whose open market price was 150,000 shillings for each box yet Siiku purchased each box at 260,000 Shillings.

He also noted that the receipts used in accounting were forged, since National Drug Authority-NDA advised that the pharmacies that issued them were either none-existent or were operating illegally.

Siiku was summoned to appear before the Disciplinary Committee, but on July 1 2020, he received a letter dismissing him.   

According to Siiku, the decision was biased, made by biased officials UCAA who had interest in the matter and the outcome and it was done in breach of the principles of natural justice.

This he notes that whereas the Disciplinary committee had found that it was wrong for him to involve a middle man to purchase the protective equipment, the committee agreed that there was a lot of instability in the market at the time when the COVID-19 pandemic had just broken out with few suppliers and very high demand.   Siiku asked court to quash the decision to terminate him.

But UCAA while relying on the affidavit of Joseph Joel Okwalinga opposed the case on grounds that the cost of the items was higher compared to what they had been paying for the recent purchases for similar supplies. Okwalinga added that the investigator failed to trace the price quotations and location of the three pharmacies to the locations provided in the supporting documents, save for Friecca Pharmacy. 

Siiku says that by dismissing him, the committee had usurped the powers of Management and illegally constituted itself into a second Disciplinary Committee.

In his judgement dated March 12th 2022, Civil Division Judge Ssekaana has commended the Board of UCAA for putting in place the committee to handle sensitive matters at the time of the deadly COVI19 where it could not be possible for all the management members to sit and deliberate.

“As earlier on submitted by the respondent/UCAA, the establishment of the said committee should be commended by this court as an outstanding foresight that enabled performance of functions of the UCAA in a healthy and safe way”, said Ssekaana. 

Ssekaana added that the evidence on record does not disclose any illegality and the committee was exceptionally set up during a devastating pandemic whose effect his court has considered. 

According to the Judge, he has taken note of the fact Siiku was dismissed at the time when there was also a vacant position of the Director General UCAA whom he should have appealed the decision to and since the position has since been filled, he can make his appeal to him. 

Ssekaana has ruled that the decision by the committee to dismiss Siiku was lawfully taken during the prevailing circumstances at that time and he has advised him to take his appeal against dismissal to the Director General UCAA.