The former Director General of Rwanda Cooperatives Agency (RCA), Prof. Jean Bosco Harelimana, and his co-accused, Clever Hakizimana, who was the head of procurement and Liliane Gahongayire, who was a treasurer, on Thursday appeared in court for the bail hearing.
Prof. Harelimana, who was dropped from the national cooperatives agency in January this year was detained earlier this month on September 14, on suspected charges of mismanagement or misuse of public resources, illegal awarding of government tenders, influence peddling, nepotism and using intimidation in his position.
He had been under investigations for some time over illegal awarding of public procurement and misuse of property of public interest. The trio were in court to seek bail but Prosecutors told court that if they are released they could jeopardize investigations which are still ongoing.
Prof. Harelimana denied all charges, pointing out that he had no control or influence on procurement and played no role in the process of awarding tenders or hiring people.
However, as per the Auditor General’s report of 2021, the three officials were allegedly found to be wanting in responding to the queries raised by the audit, which is why they were held culpable even after leaving their positions.
“The law specifies that the procurement officer is the one to follow up right from the planning to the conclusion of the contract. As such, the procurement officer should be the one answerable because he monitors the bids of the contractors.
Prosecutors however maintained that there is evidence that Prof. Halerimana and his colleagues engaged in acts that contravene the law, including interfering with the audit process, tampering with the recruitment process where the former Director General is accused of putting people of his choice in certain positions.
Prof. Harelimana denied ever doing that. However, a long recording that was leaked following his arrest seems to point to many such cases. However, the audio was not used in court. In the audio, he is heard giving orders to one Elizaphan on how to manipulate the audit process and help a cooperative known as KIAKA to overcome reporting challenges.