Intelligence briefing : City lawyer behind landmark deal unmasked. – Sunday Pepper 06/09/2015
A week after Buyaga County MP Barnabas Tinkasimire’s May 24th wedding, one of Museveni’s Lawyers Sam Mayanja got a strange visitor in his Nakasero road-based KAA offices. Sources say the man in his 40s told the receptionist at KAA it was urgent he wanted to see Mayanja. State house sources say the man told Mayanja he had eavesdropped NdorwaEast MP Wilfred Niwagaba’s conversation at a city hotel. The man told Museveni’s lawyer that Niwagaba was talking on his phone telling the person on the other side of the line that he was feeling betrayed. The details were that Mohammed Nsereko, one of the 4 expelled rebel MPs, was trying behind the back of his other colleagues to secretly go to Museveni and cut his own deal. It emerged that to counter these machinations by shrewd Nsereko the other three rebels MPs wished to reach out to Museveni as well. It is believed that being the calculative man he is, Nsereko had reached a conclusion that Amama Mbabazi’s conspicuous attendance of Tinkasimire’s wedding would be used to blackmail Museveni into making peace with rebel MPs. Apparently , Niwagaba and the two other rebel MPs believed the rumors they were hearing about their elusive colleague Mohammed Nsereko. The informer’s role was to alert Sam Mayanja about the possibility of resolving the matter politically. “I feel this is very helpful information but I do not know how to pass it to the H.E the President,” State house sources, whom Mayanja contacted later, quoted the man as informing him. As we shall show in this story, what started as a tip off from a concerned Museveni supporter culminated into meetings that saw the rebel MPs cease fire against Museveni and vice versa.
FLORA KICONCO’S ROLE
Sources close to Museveni say that Mayanja, who had first discussed with his KAA partner Joseph Matsiko, rang Flora Kiconco, Museveni’s pencil-thin personal Lawyer based at State House. The two subsequently met and Kiconco told Mayanja: “Counsel I swear this is a good deal. It may look nothing to us as lawyers but politically it is something Mzee would like to try. ” Mayanja consulted other lawyer Kiwanuka Kiryowa aka KK who proposed a bigger meeting with all Museveni/NRM lawyers involved in the case. The following day this meeting took place: attended by Kiconco, Sam Mayanja, Matsiko, Kiryowa and Chris Bakiza. “We need to immediately inform H.E. otherwise he will never forgive us if we delay and Mbabazi takes those people (the 4 rebel MPs),” Kiconco reportedly told the meeting. It was then resolved that, working with Kiryowa, Kiconco seeks urgent appointment with the President so that they meet him as a legal team and focus him on the legal implications of initiating an out of court settlement with rebel MPs. Museveni was busy and when he got time the lawyers went and shared with him this information which intelligence later confirmed that indeed the rebel MPs were agreeable to a political settlement with a view of ceasing fire against Museveni and vice versa. “If that is the case, I have no problem at all,” Museveni said to his lawyers as they went to share the findings of his intelligence team on the rebels MPs’ willingness to return. Museveni having been permitted by CEC through his intelligence made the first contacts with the rebel MPs suggesting a meeting. Before meeting them in July, Museveni first had a discussion with his lawyers on a talking brief they had prepared for him. Then arrangements were made and the first meeting was convened at Entebbe State House. The rebel MPs came with their lawyers and Museveni with his team.
In that very first meeting Museveni who had been taking a briefing from his lawyers in another room, walked in with his legal team joining the rebel MPs and their lawyers who had been waiting. “There they are. Very cheeky boys of mine but they are okay. They are my boys,” Museveni teasingly said. He then signaled Mohammed Nsereko to sit nearest to him. Nsereko would later warm up to this proximity to Mzee to whom he kept writing chits. Museveni then turned on seeing the rebel MPs’ legal team members. On seeing Ben Wacha who was leading it, Museveni said “Eeh Ben Wacha you are the one advising these people to do all these things to me?” Wacha smiled and said ‘yes sir’. Museveni then went back in history asking Wacha: “Do you remember the time we first met in 1980? You looked a young man I wonder how old you are now” Wacha told him I was 26 years old then. “Museveni said:”I was 31 years then and I remember we were both young but I was older than you.”” Museveni then asked if Wacha who was Obote’s P.A. at the time, remembers an incident at conference center where Milton Obote who had just returned from Tanzanian exile was staying, “I seeing you there with Mzee Obote. I had come to check on him and greet him but those UPC people were not happy. They hurled all sorts of insults at me in the corridors and they chased me away. I felt bad going without meeting Mzee Obote. I had really wanted to greet him that day”, Museveni reminisced, an incident Wacha vividly remembers.” I am very forgiving because I forgot those UPC people who hurled insults at me even when I was innocent.” Having made this pre-amble, Museveni then turned to look at his lawyers jokingly asking them : ”Why are you here?” He then told the meeting he was okay reconciling with the 4 MPs adding he had nothing personal against them. The meeting adjourned shortly after exchanging pleasantries as Museveni said he had other urgent business to do. It was agreed they meet again with Wacha leading his team comprising of the 4 MPs, Caleb Alaka, Abdul Katuntu and UPC lawyer Peter Walubiri. In the next meeting, Museveni who had already had many meetings with his lawyers turned to ask members whether it was necessary to continue having lawyers around. He suggested “I think this is a political matter which the lawyers of bothe sides should leave us to handle since my lawyers have already guided me that it’s not subjudice for us to have these discussions” the consensus was built that the lawyers could leave for Museveni to politically engage the 4 MPs who are after all his fellow politicians. Before leaving, Caleb Alaka said he had something to inquire: was Museveni willing to pay their legal fees which by now were stretching in billions? Museveni said that would be resolved once a political settlement was concretized. The lawyers left and Museveni, who kept consulting with CEC, continued having meetings with the rebel MPs resulting into their re-admission to NRM. The rest as they say is history.
But who is Sam Mayanja, the smooth operating elusive city lawyer whose insightful approach sparked off meetings that finally delivered the deal? He has vast experience in lawyering with bias on banking. He is among the 9 eminent lawyers who in 2001 formed Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA), which is one of the leading firms in Uganda and the region. The other KAA co-founders are: Oscar Kambona, Elly Karuhanga, Joseph Matsiko, Peter Kabatsi and CJ Bart Katureebe who had just ceased to be Attorney General and others. Mayanja is a devout Christian and one time did street preaching. An article in the Cutting Edge Magazine (which is the official publication of Christian lawyers) shows that Mayanja is fascinated by spirituality the very reason he is often invited to give inspirational talk at different churches. He was until recently the Managing Partner of KAA. Besides part time lecturing at top Ugandan Universities, Mayanja is also a regular contributor/writer for a Magazine called “Sustainable Wealth Creation” which is quarterly published by Uganda’s Institute of Corporate Governance. He is also a leading World Bank consultant for regional multibillion dollars projects like the Northern Corridor project all whose related protocols he single handedly drafted for the EAC. He has also previously worked with the East African Development Bank. A commercial farmer with vast farms in Mityana. Mayanja also authors articles on corporate governance and sustainable development. Internet information shows that in December last year, award winning Mayanja flew to London to pick his award during the converted Global Law Experts (GLE) practice awards night in London. He was being recognized along with a few other lawyers carefully selected from 140 countries. GLE awards’ organizers recognized him for his relentless efforts to extend technical support to Uganda’s nascent private sector. He passionately participated in initiatives aimed at capacity building and inculcating sustainable development values in business communities while avoiding legal liabilities and poor corporate governance. Sam Mayanja’s profile as a lawyer received a huge boost last month when a panel of “highly profiled world lawyers and attorney’s” nominated him for inclusion in an organization called Legal’s Finest’s Annual Handbook distributed globally for networking purposes. Published in partnership with Google and The Search Marketing Group. The annual handbook makes available information identifying the legal fraternity’s best brains scattered in different parts of the world. Information on Legal’s Finest’s website shows that Sam Mayanja has been scrutinized and identified as Eastern and Central Africa’s finest Finance & Banking legal expert. Inclusion in such prestigious legal publications is a networking opportunity and simply equals Mayanja being referred to North American, Middle Eastern and European investors to seek his legal advice wherever they consider making multi-billion investment decisions in the region on finance and banking matters. It’s actually an endorsement of one’s fine legal services. Mayanja is also the proposed Banking & Finance representative for the Group in Uganda.