Gasabo Primary Court on Tuesday granted bail to five former leaders at Rwanda Education Board (REB) who were arrested on 22 March for alleged complicity in embezzling public funds.
Two former director generals at REB Janvier Gasana and Dr John Rutayisire were arrested along with Ali Harelimana and Rutaha Bagaya, both former directors of finance and administration, and Juvenal Rusatsi Ngemanyi, the Budget Officer of the board.
All of them are accused of conspiring to embezzle up to Rwf249 million, committed during their term in office from the time of the board was created in 2011 up to last year.
The court located in Kibagabaga, a Kigali suburb, ordered for the immediate release of the five, explaining that “there is no substantial reasons for remanding them for thirty days.”
Prosecution had submitted to court that the five be remanded for thirty days as they conclude the investigation, which submission court rejected.
The bail was without any condition, according to the ruling.
Rutayisire was REB boss form July 2011 to February 2015 when he handed over to Gasana who occupied the office up to February 2018.
Bagaya was the Director of Finance (DAF) of the same institution from 2011- 2015 until Harelimana took over up to 2016.
Rusatsi was the budget officer from Rutayisire’s time to present.
Last week on Thursday, the five appeared before the same court asking to be given bail where some of denied the accusations while others accepting their role.
Prosecution submitted that Rutayisire, during his tenure, released unjustifiably up to Rwf184,500,000 for One Laptop per Child Programme.
The programme is aimed at distributing specially tailored laptop gadgets to primary schools across the country.
Prosecution also dwelt on agreements which REB (then led by Gasana) entered with ECMN Ltd, a local company, to provide warehouse services for 150,000 laptops under the programme.
Prosecution referred to the Auditor General’s reports which faulted the institution for renting storage of 150,000 laptops at an exorbitant Rwf16,389,200 per month.
It was also discovered that REB paid for insurance of the 150,000 laptops alleged to be in store while in actual sense, there were 50,000 pieces.
The Auditor General’s report alleged the contract as wrongfully made and caused unnecessary spending by the institution.
Prosecution added that despite the huge sums of money for renting the warehouse and depriving students (beneficiaries of the laptops), the warehouse was only utilised at only 10 per cent.
Prosecution further submitted an analysis of the amount REB could pay ECMN Lto for warehouse services, explaining that of over Rwf16 million paid per month, Rwf9 million was designated for insurance of the laptops.
“It is astonishing because ECMN Ltd procured insurance from SONARWA at Rwf1,243,484 per month, according to fire and allied perils policy,” prosecution had said.
In defence, Rutayisire accepted the flaws he made during his service at REB but shifted the blame to the whole chain that endorsed expenditures at REB.
“One Laptop Per Child officials requested for money through the normal process. All the initial officers in charge endorsed their request so I also had to sign,” he told court.
However, Gasana took the blame on himself at the onset, saying that it was really “negligence” on his part to let money go without scrutinising if it was being justifiably spent.
“I should have known that REB was paying rent for 150,000 laptops while in actual sense there were only 50,000 laptops stored,” he said.
It was not immediately clear if prosecution would appeal the verdict.