By David Himbara
In October 2017, there was an attempt to damage the reputation of Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa in Uganda. Here is the sequence of the events, and how the effort failed to materialize.
1. The attempt to damage Ayabatwa’s reputation began with allegations and forgeries in an online tabloid newspaper.
On October 13, 2017, Pepper, an online Ugandan newspaper claimed that Ayabatwa had offered General (Rtd) Caleb Akandwanaho 15 percent shares in Leaf Tobacco and Commodities Company Ltd. General Akandwanaho is the younger brother of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. The newspaper presented what it claimed to be a Special Board Resolution and a Memorandum of Understanding dated June 13, 2017. The documents purported to authorize 15 percent shares to Akandwanaho. Both the Special Board Resolution and a Memorandum of Understanding were said to have been prepared by and signed by the law firm, Ligomarc Advocates.
2. Leaf Tobacco & Commodities (U) Ltd responded with public notices to denounce the allegations.
Leaf Tobacco & Commodities (U) Ltd denied the allegations by issuing public notices in Ugandan newspapers, such as the one below dated October 16, 2017. The company stated that the documents used by Red Pepper were forgeries.
3. Red Pepper newspaper disclaimed the article stating that the article did not originate from its website.
On October 14, 2017, Johnson Musinguzi, the director of Red Peppernewspaper disowned about the article on the purported transfer of 15% shares to General Akandwanaho. Musinguzi stated that the article ”did not originate from Red Pepper and we are treating it as a forgery.” See the RedPepper letter here.
4. Uganda Government Registrar Of Companies showed no change in the shareholding. General Akandwanaho is not registered as a director.
The Uganda government records showed no chance in directorships and shareholding in Ayabatwa’s companies in Uganda. As indicated below on the certified form of Annual Return of a Company Having a Share Capital, General Akandwanaho is not a director in Leaf Tobacco & Commodities (U) Ltd.
5. Newspapers in Uganda soon realized that Red Pepper used forged documents to tarnish Ayabatwa’s reputation.
Ugandan newspapers reported the documents used by Red Pepper to be forgeries. For example, Chimpreports titled its October 17, 2017 article on the subject “Forged Documents Linking Gen Saleh to Rwandan Tycoon Rujugiro Kick up Dust.”
6. The law firm, Ligomarc Advocates, has reiterated that the documents used by Red Pepper were forgeries.
The law firm, Ligomarc Advocates, consistently denounced, and continues to reject Red Pepper’s allegations — as shown here.
7. Ayabatwa’s reputation in Uganda remains intact.
Ayabatwa’s businesses in Kampala, Uganda were not affected by the episode. His new factory and grower programs in northern Uganda are progressing as planned.