Property of ex-Nyabihu district official auctioned to recover taxpayer’s money

Bidders tour the property of former Nyabihu District Executive Emmanuel Habyarimana before the auction. / Kelly Rwamapera

A house and piece of land belonging to the former executive secretary of Nyabihu District, Emmanuel Habyarimana, have been auctioned in a bid to recover funds he embezzled during his tenure in office.

Habyarimana was arrested in March 2014 after failing to justify to the Ombudsman’s office how he had amassed property worth over Rwf235 million.

He was subsequently convicted and sentenced by High Court to a two-year imprisonment. He was also fined double the value of the amount he failed to justify.

As a result, he has an outstanding fine of 470 million.

Habyarimana escaped before the final verdict could be pronounced.

Government has now moved to recover the fines through auction of his property.

The first property to go under the hammer was one of his houses in Kicukiro District, which was auctioned on Wednesday,

The auction took place at the property in Kanserege Cell, Kagarama Sector, Kicukiro District.

The property was valued at over Rwf74, 273,000 by a professional valuer but the successful bidder bought it for Rwf56,000,900 after a 30-minute bidding process.

Anaclet Habumuremyi, who bought the property after offering the highest amountm, told The New Times that he was going to rent out the residential house.

Later in the day, the auctioneer, professional bailiff Emmanuel Kamanzi, also sold off a piece of land belonging to Habyarimana, also located in Kicukiro District.

The plot was sold for Rwf30m, meaning that he has only cleared Rwf86 of the Rwf470m he was fined.

Speaking to The New Times on Thursday, Theophille Mbonera, the head of legal services department at the Ministry of Justice, said there is more property belonging to Habyarimana that will be auctioned.

“There is more property for Habyarimana and we shall follow legal procedures to have the properties auctioned to pay the debt he owes the government,” Mbonera said.

Mbonera said that the ministry has stepped up efforts to get the money owed to government through auctioning of property belonging to its debtors.

“We have been asking those who owe government to at least come up with a plan to execute judgments but some have not responded accordingly. We have come up with a list of evaders and are going to pursue them until they have paid up,” he said.

In February, Minister Busingye told the media that government had over Rwf7.3 billion owed by individuals who lost litigations in courts of law.

However, only Rwf2 billion had been recovered and the Government was looking for all means to recover its funds, including partnering with the media on advertising auctions and property valuators so they can be paid after auctions.

The law obliges civil servants to explain the source of their possessions.

Failure to do so could attract a term of imprisonment of 2-5 years and a fine of 2-10 times the value of the property in question.

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