The Buganda Road Magistrates Court has issued a warrant of arrest against the proprietor of Empowerment Christian Church International Franklin Mondo Mugisha.
Court presided over by the Grade one Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu issued the warrant in respect to charges of obtaining money by false pretence and conspiracy to commit a felony, preferred against Mondo, and others still at large.
The matter came up when a group of pastors under their umbrella body- Hands Across the World petitioned Lt Col Edith Nakalema, the head of the State House Anti Corruption Unit indicating that Mondo had used their group to con a number of people, with promises that he would construct churches for the pastors, houses for the needy and offer scholarships for needy children.
Mondo allegedly obtained more than one billion Shillings from parents in the areas of Bombo-Luwero, Tororo, Iganga, Kaliro and Kampala Districts between 2014 and 2020.
On another file, Mondo is charged with three others for defrauding a sum of 4.5 billion Shillings, still, through false pretence. The three include Siraje Ssemanda, Margaret Kayima also known as Nabbi Omukazi and Jimmy Arinaitwe, the Director of Hands Across the World Initiative Uganda Limited.
Today, his lawyer Erias Asiimwe who was holding brief for lawyer Robert Rutaro told the court that Mondo fled the country amidst security threats and a sickness he was battling. He said that by the time of his departure, Mondo’s life was in danger because he was being trailed by armed persons, and asked the court to halt the trial until Mondo’s condition stabilizes.
However, the Prosecution noted that there is no proof that Mondo is out of the country and or that he has a medical condition which cannot be handled by Ugandan hospitals. Accordingly, the Prosecution prayed that a warrant of arrest be issued against Mondo such that he can be compelled to come to court and, after his appearance, the court can determine if he needs treatment abroad.
But in her ruling, the Magistrate said that the letter which was allegedly written by Mondo on January 26, 2021, looked backdated. The letter was detailing reasons why Mondo opted to flee the country.
According to her, on January 28, 2021, the court was told that Mondo wasn’t able to appear because he had been taken to South Africa to treat post-COVID-19 effects. The same lawyer committed that his client would be in the court today.
Kamasanyu added that since criminal summons were extended on January 28 in agreement that Rutaro brings Mondo to the court today, in vain, it was appropriate for her to issue a warrant of arrest to compel him to come to court.
Meanwhile the Prosecution has amended the charges against the entire group with exception of Mondo, with 17 new charges of obtaining money by false pretence. Kayima, the other accused person was granted bail on one file but she cannot leave jail since she has not yet been given bail on two other pending files.
The group will now return to court on February 11 2021 for bail ruling on the other pending files.