Evode Imena, former State Minister for Mines, on Wednesday re-appeared in Nyamirambo Intermediate court to battle a case of nepotism and breaching tendering procedures in issuing a mining permit.
Dressed in a black suit and white shirt, Imena appeared with his defense team but without two other co-accused –Francis Kayumba and Joseph Kagabo.
The case that prosecution brought against him involves two mining companies that bid for a mining concession permit. The suspect had managed to secure himself a bail in February.
Imena is said to have blocked chances of Nyaruguru Agro Mining Company winning a mining certificate and instead handed green light to Mashamba mining- owned by wives of the co- accused.
During the Wednesday hearing, Imena took almost an hour pleading not guilty to the charges. He said the charges were framed against him as part of a work related blackmail within the ministry.
“I was once State Minister and headed by two other ministers who saw it fit to give a tender to Mashamba mining because it had fulfilled legal tender requirements. In fact the two concession permits were requested on different dates,” Imena said.
Prosecution said that Imena abused his office by colluding in the creation of a mining company, whose owners were spouses to his subordinates; Francis Kayumba and Joseph Kagabo, also suspects in the case.
The Nyaruguru Mining Company represented by Straton Ndamage appeared in court seeking compensation worth over Rwf686 million.
Ndamage argued that Imena played a central role in manipulating the tendering process. “There was an overriding ministers’ powers and approval of tender papers which were cleared by the tendering committee as fit. This I find it as favoritism,” Ndamage said.
To defend his compensation request, Ndamage said that he had already Rwf100million in research work preparation at the mining site which he had bid for and other expenses in bidding process.
However, Imena said that there is no need to compensate this company since he is facing ‘blackmail’.
Prosecution has requested that Imena be charged for abusing office especially on grounds that he favoured a non-legitimate company to get a mining certificate in Nyaruguru district.
Prosecution asked court to sentence Imena to seven years and Rwf500.000 in fines.
Imena was appointed as state minister in 2014, a position he held till October 2016 when he was dropped from cabinet and his entire office scrapped in the process.
Favouritism and nepotism in public service attracts a jail term of up to three years and a fine of up to Rwf2 million under Rwanda’s penal code.
Court adjourned the case for further hearing on December 7, 2017.