TRA to auction Lugumi's mansions

21Aug 2017
Getrude Mbago
The Guardian
TRA to auction Lugumi's mansions

THE Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) has lined up for auction three prime properties belonging to prominent businessman Said Lugumi which the taxman seized since April in a bid to recover billions of shillings owed by his company.

 

Scheduled for September 9, this year, the auction will be implemented by Yono Auction Mart, which is the auctioneer, debt collector and commission agent contracted by TRA to collect debts from defaulters.

An advert published yesterday showed that, the estate to go under the hammer include the property located at Upanga area, Ilala municipality on plot no 47, Block 2, with CT no 72456 which is suitable for accommodation.

The other two properties are located at Mbweni JKT area, Kinondoni Municipality in Dar es salaam which include one located on plot no.701 with CT no 18173/35 which is suitable for office and accommodation and the other located on plot no 57, block 2, with CT no 11839 suitable for accommodation. 

“On behalf of Tanzania Revenue Authority-Ilala Region, we shall sell by public auction the properties of the tax defaulter. The auction will be held on September 9, this year,” read part of the advert. 

In a telephone interview with this paper, Yono Auction Mart director Yono Kevela confirmed that the properties will be auctioned on the mentioned date.

According to him, if the Lugumi will pay the debts before the auction day, then the properties will be given back to him.“What we are doing as auctioneers, is to implement the directive given by TRA and on the scheduled date, the properties will be sold, but if the defaulter will be able to clear the debts, the auctioning process will be cancelled,” he said.

In April 26, this year Yono Auction Mart announced that it had seized properties worth 68.1bn/, belonging to different businesspeople on behalf of TRA with Lugumi being among them.

The name Lugumi began catching headlines in recent years after details emerged of a sensitive contract his company entered with the Tanzania police.

In what became known as the Lugumi scandal, the Tanzanian Police Force in 2011 contracted Lugumi Enterprises Ltd to install 108 fingerprint machines at police stations across the country at the cost of 37bn/-. 

The contractor reportedly received 34bn ($15.8 million) of which only 18 units were installed, while only eight were functioning.Alarmed by the Controller and Auditor General’s report, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) demanded to see the contract document but the police did not make it available to the lawmakers, saying it should be in the hands of the Home Affairs Ministry.

It was revealed that less than 10 per cent of the targeted police stations across the country were fitted with automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) gadgets, contrary to the terms of the contract.

The allegations had included possible abuse of public office by some senior officials - both past and present - in both the police force and the parent Ministry of Home Affairs.

The PCCB’s intervention came after the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) raised queries over the issue as laid out in the 2013/14 Controller and Auditor General (CAG)’s government audit report. The PAC has since demanded to be shown the procurement contract, but did not materialise. 

It was later established that an American firm, Bio-Metrica LLC, was also involved in the fingerprint scanner contract negotiations from the outset. The Florida-headquartered firm said in a statement on its website in May, 2012 that it was picked by the Tanzania Police Force to implement the AFIS initiative.

According to the Bio-Metrica statement: "The AFIS, powered by BioLink Solutions, is a highly-rated fingerprint solution supporting the enrollment and identification of millions of criminal and citizens as well as a robust latent fingerprint analysis system."

The project in Tanzania was supposed to involve the deployment of workstations "throughout the nation as well as portable crime scene units that can wirelessly connect with the central system," the US firm said.

It is yet to be made clear if Bio-Metrica was working in partnership with Lugumi Enterprises or if the two companies signed separate contracts with the police force for the same project. The Lugumi contract was signed during the tenure of the then Inspector General of Police (IGP), Said Mwema.

Lugumi Enterprises has previously issued a media statement asserting that the contract was implemented “effectively”, contrary to spreading speculation. It said parties who weren’t involved in the deal had no business questioning it since the client - the Tanzania Police Force - had not complained.