Former Minister of State in-charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr. Isaac Munyakazi today appeared in court to face bribery charges of which his defense team said that there is no substantial evidence to prove the allegations.
Munyakazi and his co- accused Abdou Gahima, are facing charges of soliciting, taking and handing out a money bribe of Rwf500.000 last year.
Munyakazi is alleged to have taken the bribe from Gahima, the owner of Good Harvest Primary School so as to alter end of year school examination results placing the school among top ten performers in spite of having a poor performance.
While appearing in Nyarugenge intermediate court, Munyakazi and Gahima said there is no evidence to prove that this alleged act happened despite the fact that it is one of the reasons that one of his clients resigned from civil service in February.
However, prosecution came out with new evidence in the case file saying that Munyakazi connived with one of his colleagues Dr Alphonse Sebaganwa, Head of the Department of Examination, Selection and Assessment at Rwanda Education Board (REB) to take a cut of the bribes after Munyakazi realized the latter was already in the game of soliciting such bribes.
Prosecution also said the duo met inside a vehicle packed at Camp Kigali (in Nyamirambo) to exchange brown hands on the alleged bribe of Rwf500,000 and help him to conclude the deal of placing Good Harvest Primary School among top ten performing schools in the year’s final exams.
Prosecution told court that Munyakazi allegedly convinced his accomplice, who is still serving at REB, that the person behind this request (Gahima) is well positioned person who also works in the president’s office.
In the midst of this discourse, prosecution alleged that Gahima tried to refuse to make the move on ground of its implications but Munyakazi insisted that as long as he is in office he will cover up any case levied up Gahima’s actions.
Days later, prosecution stated that the trio met in Kimironko inside a vehicle and concluded the full deal with assurance to Gahima that all will go as planned.
In evidence provided, public prosecutors informed court that before Good Harvest School placement among the top ten schools it was in position 143 and two of alleged best students (in position 7 and 9) and recognized at national level were in position 611 and 229 respectively.
After the deal went as planned, prosecution also allegedly stated that the trio met on January 10, 2020 at a restaurant in Nyarutarama , in Kigali; shared a meal and Gahima gave his car keys to Sebaganwa to fetch his Rwf500,000 bribe.
To prove all these allegations took place in time, the prosecution said that Sebaganwa had informed criminal investigators to follow up on the developments.
However, the presiding judge asked why he was not presented, prosecution said that it was under the law on corruption that an informant or forthcoming collaborator cannot be presented as a suspect.
Prosecution also stated that Munyakazi pleaded guilty to the above allegations and asked for forgiveness during initial case statement recording, however when Munyakazi was given chance to present his defense, he denied the charges.
Munyakazi confidently said that these alleged crimes never happened in the first case and whatever Sebaganwa did was not in his control nor under use of authority to influence his actions.
“Whatever he (Sebaganwa) claims to have done was not in my authority and I couldn’t reprimand him since it was not in my jurisdiction,” Munyakazi said.
“When we met at Camp Kigali, I wanted to know how far they had gone with correcting the final exams.”
Court asked why two didn’t meet in their offices, but Munyakai stated that he had called Sebaganwa earlier and informed him that he was at Camp Kigali, thus using the advantage to meet since Munyakazi was heading in the same direction at the time.
Though Munyakazi denied discussing anything about placing Good Harvest Primary School among top schools, he said that meeting with the school owner was on grounds that he had sought assistance on improving Gahima’s school general financial performance after it had financial difficulties- of which Munyakazi promised to help out as much as possible.
Munyakazi said that if (as a friend to Gahima) he wanted to illegally use his power, he would have granted a supporting letter to Gahima’s request for funding aid from United Arab Emirates but instead advised him to go through the ministry of foreign affairs.
He also said that Gahima wanted a conclusive operation certificate (permit) for his school, but instead Munyakazi offered a temporary permit since they had not fulfilled all requirements.
The former minister also expressed shock on his said confession and informed court that his prosecution statement was altered with more words added contrary to what he stated verbally and that Sebaganwa acted alone.
However, Munyakazi asked court to provide concrete evidence on the charges but also have Sebaganwa stand trial as a way of determining the motive behind the presented evidence.
In his defense, Gahima denied all charges and said that if he wanted to give a bribe, he would have offered it to Munyakazi instead of Sebaganwa, but also asked how he could lure a bribe to two officials with doctorates.
Gahima also questioned reasons why he was not arrested immediately for the alleged crimes as they happened and why the case was raised in January 2020 yet it allegedly happened in 2019.
For these charges, prosecution asked court to offer a seven jail sentence to Munyakazi plus a fine of Rwf5million while Gahima to get five years and a fine of Rwf2million. However, based on their evidence, the suspects asked to be set free.
The final court decision on the arguments will be read on October 16, 2020.