By Eddie Nsabimana
The Gasabo Intermediate Court on Friday, October 16, adjourned the hearing of businessman Alfred Nkubiri after he failed to show up in court due to illness.
Nkubiri, who owns a company called ENAS, a major agri-dealer in the country, faces three charges; breach of trust, forgery and use of forged documents, and confiscating items used in a crime.
The charges are linked to a multi-billion tender to distribute fertilisers to farmers across the country.
He had initially been charged with three counts; breach of trust, forgery and use of forged documents, and confiscating items used in a crime.
However, the judge nullified the breach of trust charge, citing the statute of limitations, where this particular charge expires after three years.
Nkubiri is suspected of being connected to the mismanagement of money amounting to Rwf9 billion that was meant for fertilisers for farmers across the country.
He has denied all the charges.
He was in August remanded by the Gasabo Primary Court for 30 days and was since taken Nyarugenge Prison.
As the Gasabo Intermediate Court resumed the hearing in substance, Nkubiri’s lawyer,
Hubert Rubasha explained that his client wasn’t able to appear before court because he is sick and had an appointment with the doctor on the day of hearing.
He then presented to court a medical certificate to validate his argument.
Rubasha requested that the hearing be adjourned until Nkubiri is healthy enough to return to court so he can himself give explanations about the charges against him.
Nkubiri and his co-accused were supposed to appear virtually from Nyarugenge Prison where they are being held, in accordance with the Covid-19 guidelines.
The prosecution, however, questioned Nkubiri’s illness saying that his medical certificate wasn’t enough for the court to accept that he is sick yet the prison, which has him in custody, did not communicate his sickness.
Nkubiri is among nine suspect involved in the case in which each is alleged to have swindled a specific amount which in total adds up to over Rwf9 billion for which they must be held accountable.
They include Evariste Nsengiyumva, Elias Uzabukiriho, Amon Nsengiyumva, Thadee Nibishaka, Laurent Rugerinyange, Faustin Uwingabo, Evariste Rukumba and Dieudonne Itengeri.
Like Nkubiri, the co-accused did not appear before court.
They are accused of embezzling money in a project that ran between 2009 and 2013 under the agriculture ministry, which was aimed at boosting food production in the country, by helping farmers to access fertilisers at subsidised prices.
Through the project, farmers were supposed to get fertilisers and only pay 40 per cent of its cost, while the government would meet the remaining 60 percent.
The work to distribute the fertilisers was entrusted to a group of entrepreneurs, who were also given the mandate to collect the percentage that was to be paid by the farmers.
The Rwanda Investigation Bureau earlier, in July, told The New Times that they fabricated lists of beneficiary farmers and even those (farmers) that benefited and paid their part, the entrepreneurs never remitted the money to government coffers.
This is the second time Nkubiri is being arrested on similar but separate charges.
In 2016, he was arrested on charges of fraud in another tender his company had won from the government to supply 730 metric tonnes of fertilisers to farmers in different parts of the country.
After submissions from both sides, Judge Patricie Mukayiza, who presided over the hearing adjourned it to November 27, to allow Nkubiri to recover.
Source New Times.