Prosecution seeks 7-year sentence for shamed ex-minister

The former Minister of State for Education Dr Isaac Munyakazi with his lawyers during the hearing at Nyarugenge Intermediate Court in Kigali. Dan Nsengiyumva

The former Minister of State for Education should be sentenced to jail for 7 years and fined Rwf 5 million for corruption-related charges, Prosecution told court on Thursday, September 17, 2020. 

Isaac Munyakazi resigned from his position in February this year after allegations of corruption were levelled against him. 

 

He was the Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education. 

 

Munyakazi is co-accused with Abdu Gahima, a local businessman and owner of Good Harvest School located in Kicukiro District.

 

They were both present in Court. Munyakazi was sharply dressed in a sky-blue suit and blue shirt while Gahima was in cotton pants and an African print shirt. 

Prosecution sought a 5-year sentence and Rwf 2 million fine for Gahima.

According to Prosecution, the former Minister used his position to award Gahima’s school top ranking in national exams and have some of his students named among the best performing in the 2019 national exams. 

The prosecution explained that Munyakazi used his position to influence Alphonse Sebaganwa, the officer in charge of releasing the ranks.

Sebaganwa is the Head of Examinations, Selection and Assessment Department at REB (Rwanda Education Board). 

When the 2019 rankings were released, Good Harvest came at number 9 in the country, and yet it should have been ranked 143, prosecution charged. 

And, for their students, one was ranked 7th in the country, yet they should have been 611. The other who was ranked 9th should have been 229. 

It is not clear how the system was manipulated to enable the school jump over 130 places in the national rankings or how one of their students was able to jump over 600 places. 

Prosecution argued that Gahima, the owner of the school, wanted to elevate the status of his school and paid a bribe to make it happen.

He allegedly wanted it to be among the top 10 in the country. 

The court heard that Munyakazi and Gahima were good friends.

How it all happened

The Court heard that on January 10, 2020, ex- Minister Munyakazi, the School owner Gahima and Sebaganwa who is charge of the rankings met a Khana Kazana, a high-end Indian Restaurant in Nyarutarama. 

According to prosecution, the meeting was held to reward Sebaganwa for elevating the school’s rankings which had been released on December 31, 2019.

During the meeting, Court heard, Gahima requested Sebaganwa for his car keys, went to the parking, and put an envelope containing RWf 500,000 cash in the car. 

After finding money, Sebaganwa recorded a statement with the Rwanda Investigation Bureau. 

The case against the former Minister and Gahima is built around Sebaganwa testimony. 

Both Munyakazi and Gahima plead not guilty

The accused insisted that they are not guilty and that all accusations lack facts and incriminating evidence.

They, however, admitted to being close friends and meeting Sebaganwa on multiple occasions.

In his defence, Munyakazi said that he did not have the authority to instruct the REB official to manipulate the rankings, because REB is an autonomous institution with its own leadership. 

His lawyers argued that Prosecution should provide tangible evidence that he used his position to influence Sebaganwa.

He added that it does not make sense for Sebaganwa to have waited for over a month before reporting the case. 

Munyakazi pointed out that when he first got in-touch with Sebaganwa in mid-December, he was following on progress of the national exams since primary and secondary education were part of his docket. He did, however, introduce Gahima to Sebaganwa who had approached him seeking help on what he needs to do for his school to perform better. 

Gahima, on his part, denied the allegations, saying there is no evidence to support the claims that he bribed anyone and Sebaganwa testimony is not sufficient proof that he committed the alleged crimes.  

It is, however, not the first time that Gahima is implicated in high-level corruption-related cases. 

In a case involving Alex Kanyankole the former CEO of Rwanda Development Bank, court heard that Gahima gave a piece of personal equipment worth USD 12,500 to the CEO as a token of appreciation for approving a loan. 

The loan, that was for Good Harvest School, owned by Gahima. Kanyankole is now serving a six-year sentence.

The Nyarugenge Intermediate Court is scheduled to rule on the case on October 16.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper


For news tips and story ideas please WhatsApp +250 788 310 999    

 

Follow The New Times on Google News