Saddled with a Shs 3.4bn debt, Lenina Rukikaire Mbabazi, daughter of Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, has appealed to President Museveni for help.
Lenina borrowed the money on behalf of the National Resistance Movement in June 2010, to facilitate the registration of party delegates.
According to an April 7, 2014 letter from her lawyers, Akampurira and Partners, to President Museveni, Lenina (who normally shortens her name to Nina), says she borrowed Shs 440 million with the authorisation of President Museveni, as party chairman.
She got it from money lender Arvind Patel at an interest rate of 15 per cent per month.
The agreement, according to the lawyers, was to have this money repaid in three months. But no penny has been paid to date. The outstanding debt had shot to Shs 3.4bn as of March 2014, including interest and the principal.
Through her lawyers, Lenina now wants Museveni to intervene – since he authorised the transaction – before the lender resorts to aggressive recovery action.
“Our instructions are, therefore, to seek your intervention to ensure that the matter is amicably settled without recourse to other legal means to enforce our clients’ demand,” the letter says.
Earlier, in an April 4, 2014 letter to her lawyers instructing them to recover the money, jointly signed by Lenina and lender Patel, she said: “During the [NRM] registration programme of its members and delegates, I Lenina Rukikaire borrowed a total of Uganda Shillings Four hundred and forty million (Shs 440,000,000) as principal from Mr Arvind Patel in June 2010. I borrowed it on behalf of the NRM party…
“This is, therefore, to jointly instruct you to recover on our behalf the principal and the finance charge accrued as of to date at their cost.”
A senior lawyer who declined to be named said Nina could be personally liable because she holds no formal position in the NRM and there might be no written evidence that she borrowed the money on behalf of the party.
“If the instructions [from Museveni] were verbal, then the party can say they know nothing about the debt. This leaves Nina in deep trouble,” the lawyer said.
In June 2010, Nina was contracted by the NRM to computerise and clean up the party register in the run-up to the 2010 primaries and the delegates’ conference. Sources told The Observer that she undertook the exercise under the supervision of an IT consultant, Dr Willams Ddembe, who has since relocated to Ghana.
Efforts to talk to Nina were futile as her two known phone numbers were off on Monday and Tuesday. Patel, the lender confirmed, in a telephone interview, that he gave Nina the money, which was yet to be repaid. He however, declined to reveal the details of his agreement with her.
“You can talk to my lawyer about that but we are sorting it out,” Patel said.
Michael Akampurira, Nina’s lawyer, could not be reached by press time. A lawyer at the firm said he did not have knowledge of the letter because he was not the one who handled it. Amama Mbabazi, Nina’s father and the NRM secretary general, told The Observer on Monday that he could not comment about the matter off hand.
“I really don’t have any comment now on that one. I will have to find out more,” Mbabazi said after a press briefing at his office.