Former state minister for mining, Evode Imena, and his co-accused, yesterday, applied for bail at Nyarugenge High Court after they were charged with favouritism, falsification of documents and usurpation of powers.
This was after the prosecution prayed court to remand the suspects for 30 more days to prevent them from interfering with ongoing investigations.
The court is due to rule on the bail application tomorrow.
Imena and two former officials with the defunct Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) – former director of mining regulation Francis Kayumba and former division manager for mining technical operations Joseph Kagabo – were dragged to court over several mining deals that prosecution says were unlawfully sanctioned.
The suspects were arrested in January, four months after Imena was dropped from Cabinet and his docket scrapped.
In one case, court heard, the three men were involved in a shoddy deal that saw a company hurriedly formed for the sole purpose of acquiring a mining licence to conduct mining activities in Nduba in Gasabo District.
This, the prosecutors said, happened after Kagabo recommended that a company be hired for the said mining activities.
The company that was formed was registered under the names of Kagabo’s wife, Jovia, and that of Kayumba.
Prosecution argues that Kagabo is the one who contacted Kayumba’s wife, Diana, advising her to join forces with his wife and form a company so they can be given the mining concession.
Kagabo and Kayumba allegedly influenced members of the committee that vets applications for mining concessions – with the latter himself a member of committee– to give the green light to the said company [ JDJ –prosecution says the initials stand for Jovia, Diana and Joseph (Kagabo)].
The decision was approved by Imena through a ministerial order of 2014, which was itself illegal because he no longer had powers to issue such orders, court heard.
Later, JDJ sold the concession to KNM for $20,000, according to the prosecution.
As a result, Imena again sanctioned the transfer in another ministerial order. Like the first order, prosecution says, the second one was equally unlawful while the transfer of ownership of the Nduba concession was also conducted in a manner that’s contrary to the rules.
Imena, the prosecutors charged, was aware of the relationship between the women representing JDJ, and Kayumba and Kagabo because the latter had informed him about the same.
The minister was later notified of the anomalies with which the issue had been handled by other RNRA officials to no avail, the prosecutors said.
Imena distances self from co-accused
However, Imena denied any wrongdoing, saying the two co-defendants were attached to RNRA and not to the Ministry of Natural Resources, and that he did not know their spouses in person.
He pleaded innocence and rejected suggestions he was privy to the backdoor maneuvers that resulted into the creation of the company in question and subsequent awarding of a mining licence.
But Kagabo told the court he sought Imena’s green light before his wife and her business partner applied for the licence.
In another case, Imena overruled the decision of the RNRA awarding a mining license to Nyaruguru Mining Company Ltd, owned by one Straton Ndamage, and instead engineered the creation of Mwashamba Mining Ltd that was eventually awarded the same licence.
This, prosecution says, pointed to hatred toward Nyaruguru Mining Company Ltd because there were no sound reasons upon which the former minister withdrew the licence from them (thereby rescinding RNRA’s decision).
Imena said he took the decision because he had been informed that Nyaruguru Mining Company Ltd had pending cases that put its credibility into disrepute, but the prosecutors said that was not part of his responsibilities as a minister and had nothing to do with the task at hand.
These cases occurred between 2013 and 2014, according to prosecution.