National Unity Platform leader, Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine has refused to hand over his new armored vehicle to government for inspection as had been asked by the Uganda Revenue Authority.
On Sunday morning, Kyagulanyi posted on his social media pages announcing that his supporters especially from the diaspora had fundraised for an armored vehicle to help him beef up his security.
However, on Wednesday, the URA commissioner in charge of customs, Abel Kagumire wrote to Kyagulanyi informing him of the decision to recall the vehicle after an inquiry had been established into circumstances under which it was imported into the country.
“An inquiry has been conducted into circumstances under which motor vehicle Toyota Land Cruiser registration number UBJ 667F declared to customers was cleared and subsequently registered. Our findings among others reveal that the above-mentioned vehicle was cleared to customs as an ordinary motor vehicle instead of an armored motor vehicle the implication of which is that the vehicle was undervalued,” URA wrote.
Consequently, Kyagulanyi was asked to return the vehicle to URA for another inspection exercise.
“In accordance with section 236(d) of the East Africa Community Customs Management Act 2004 , you are required to voluntarily bring the above-mentioned motor vehicle to the URA Nakawa inland port to undergo a pre-verification process not later than 3pm of February, 26, 2021 without fail.”
Bobi Wine defiant
However, in the latest showdown, Kyagulanyi has insisted he will not take his vehicle for pre-verification as had been asked by the tax body, saying it is his right to refuse.
“Much as it is true you have the powers under section 236(d) of the EAC Customs Management Act to examine goods, you don’t have automatic powers to reexamine good which were in your custody (ware house), were examined, assessed for tax, the tax fully paid and the goods released to the owner/taxpayer,”Kyagulanyi responded to URA through his lawyers.
According to the National Unity Platform leader, the decision to recall the vehicle is not only arbitrary and without legal basis but also a threat to his right to property and privacy.
“This is therefore to demand that you immediately withdraw your decision to recall our client’s motor vehicle as long as such a decision is arbitrary and unsupported by any law.”
Following Kyagulanyi’s social media post announcing the acquisition of the armored vehicle, heads started rolling among government officials and consequently, security started investigations into circumstances under which the vehicle had been brought into the country.
Documents from URA indicate that the Toyota Landcruiser entered the country from Kenya through Busia border in November 2020 and registered under licence plates KCY550X with logbook number K3323207K owned by one Fauz Khalid, a Kenyan.
“We are glad to inform you that you have been granted permission to register the motor vehicle on payment of relevant taxes and fees as per set customs clearance procedures. You are therefore advised to engage services of a licensed customs clearing agent for preparation of tax payment and registration documents,” read in part a clearance from Alexander Nyakahuma, the URA supervisor for warehousing sector B to Khalid after having paid taxes for the vehicle upon entering the country.
Later, Khalid was able to change ownership of the vehicle to Robert Kyagulanyi.
Earlier this week, the Inspector General of Government asked Kyagulanyi to declare the new vehicle as required by law to know whether it was a gift or part of his assets but the NUP leader is yet to heed to the call.
It remains to be seen what will happen to the vehicle but according to experts, tax body URA might be forced to impound the vehicle.