At least 1,100 students at Law Development Centre (LDC) may be sent home prematurely after Stanbic bank transferred their tuition fees to a private law firm’s account.
Of these, 675 are doing the bar course and 425 are pursuing diplomas in Law. Speaking to journalists on Friday, LDC spokesman Hamis Lukyamuzi complained that Stanbic bank (Wandegeya branch) worked with Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA) and transferred Shs 1.35bn from the centre’s account without any notice.
“As we talk now, LDC cannot operate because there are no funds. If the worse gets to the worst, we shall send the students back home until government intervenes,” Lukyamuzi said. “The account is on zero. This is money we [had] planned to use this year.”
The transfer of the money dates back to a November 2003 court case LDC filed against a one Daniel Serufusa Wasswa for, among other things, asserting that it is the rightful owner of land comprised on Block 9, plot 222 Makerere.
Serufusa had started developing the land sitting on about 3.5 acres. The land, located near the LDC graduation grounds, is separated from the centre’s premises by a temporary makeshift fence.
According to Lukyamuzi, the land, together with five more plots in the neighborhood had been compulsorily acquired by government for LDC under the Land Acquisition (Makerere) Instrument of 1987.
When Serufusa learnt of the suit, he counter claimed for compensation against LDC for the values of the property. In its defense of the counterclaim, LDC stated that the suit property was acquired by government and that it was its responsibility to compensate Serufusa but not LDC.
Lukyamuzi said the presiding High court judge (Land division) Andrew Bashaija ruled in LDC’s favour then that “the plaintiff/applicant is entitled to indemnity from government in respect of compensation sought by the defendant in his counterclaim…”
However, in November last year, Justice Bashaija delivered a final ruling in favour of Serufusa. The judge then found that government did not compensate Serufusa so; he awarded him costs for the suit and the value of the land to a tune of Shs 1.079bn.
Serufusa was also ordered to surrender the land title to the chief registrar of titles for cancellation upon payment by government. Lukyamuzi claims that the judgment was delivered by court in LDC’s absence and its lawyers.
“Serufusa had abandoned his previous lawyers and now working with KAA which created confusion,” Lukyamuzi said. “The court also signed a decree [obtained by KAA from the registrar] in the suit without approval of LDC or her lawyers as required by the Civil Procedure Rules,” he added.
Serufusa, through his new lawyers (KAA), went ahead and obtained a Garnishee Order Nisi dated January 20, to find ways of having their money paid. KAA attached LDC’s monies at Stanbic bank for payment of special damages (Shs 1.07bn), interest (579m) and general damages (500m).
Aggrieved by the acts of the defendant and KAA, LDC’s lawyers filed among others, Misc. Application No. 102 OF 2017 for interalia, ordering that the decree be set aside. On February 3, LDC was also granted an interim order where court ordered that the status quo be maintained and no monies be transferred.
But on February 9, 2017 inspite of the interim order, LDC alleges that KAA obtained a Garnishee Order Absolute from the registrar. This order indicated that the money should be paid immediately to the judgment creditor (Serufusa).
“It was through a good Samaritan from Stanbic bank who told us that KAA was transferring our money,” Lukyamuzi said.
He added that Stanbic transferred Shs 1.36bn from the LDC account to KAA’s account in the same bank. The money was again transferred to KAA’s account in dfcu bank on the same day.
Lukyamuzi described the transfers as criminal, unprofessional and wrongful. But speaking to The Observer Saturday, Cathy Adengo, the Stanbic communications manager, said the bank transferred the money legally.
“Protection and maintenance of client deposits is our primary responsibility and one we take very seriously. The funds in this particular case were transferred under a court order and in accordance to the legal process,” Adengo said, before informing us that the bank will this week meet LDC management over the matter.
LDC has since filed a case with police against Stanbic bank and KAA.
OBSERVERLDC, Stanbic Bank row over transfer of Shs 1.35bn to KAA