Home Money Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa Categorically Rejects Rwanda’s Corrupt Prosecution & 10 Year Sentence...

Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa Categorically Rejects Rwanda’s Corrupt Prosecution & 10 Year Sentence In Absentia For Embezzling From His Own Company, Union Trade Centre

Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa

Philanthropist, Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, Stands Up To Rwanda’s Illegal Persecution

The Rwandan-born entrepreneur and philanthropist denounces the Rwandan government’s actions against him as illegal, citing the fact that after its loss in the East African Court of Justice, the government tried him for the same matter in absentia which contravenes the Rwandan and East African laws.

Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa

It is with a great ardour that entrepreneur and philanthropist Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa rejects the most recent action taken by the Rwandan government against him as an absurd attempt at shaking down one of its own native sons. The Rwandan government has recently tried Ayabatwa in absentia for embezzlement from his own company, the Union Trade Centre.

After the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) ruled in 2020 that the government of Rwanda’s seizure of Ayabatwa’s US$20 million Union Trade Centre (UTC) in 2013 and auctioning it off it in 2017, were illegal, the government started a series of contradictory manoeuvring. The government appealed the case at the EACJ. But while awaiting the appeal process to begin at the EACJ, the government abruptly started a new UTC trial in Rwanda whereby Ayabatwa was tried in absentia, convicted of embezzlement from his own company and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. If the intention of the Rwanda government was to cover up its loss of the UTC case in which it was ordered to account for rent and proceeds of the auction and to compensate Ayababwa for the general damages to the tune of US$500,000, the government failed miserably, as Ayabatwa explains:

“What the government of Rwanda did not only adds insult to injury, the manoeuvres are absurdly illegal according to both Rwandan and East African laws. A trial in absentia, and in the absence of being informed of criminal charges and summons to appear for trial is illegal even in Rwandan Law. A trial in absentia is a violation of the right to be heard and is in contravention of the African Charter of Human Rights. This manoeuvring will not change the fact that the government grabbed my property, auctioned it off, and was rightly found guilty by the East African Court of Justice. We will not be deterred from seeking a remedy from the courts. That is why we have once again taken the government of Rwanda to the EACJ over its illegal and futile trial in absentia in Rwanda. This case is a no-brainer. We will be vindicated.”

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About Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa

Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa is a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist from Rwanda. He is the founder and controlling shareholder of Pan-African Tobacco Group, Africa’s largest indigenous manufacturer of tobacco products. The company manufactures cigarettes in several African countries, including Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, as well as the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East. Ayabatwa is one of Africa’s leading philanthropists, assisting communities to uplift themselves in areas such as education and access to potable water. Through his nonprofit foundation, Tribert also strives to help young people to gain the practical experience required to enter the job market in Africa.

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David Himbara is an educator, author, professor of international development, and solar energy activist based at Centennial College, Toronto, Canada. Himbara is Laureate of the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Prize for Democracy and Peace, 2017. Previously, Himbara has taught at several universities in North America and Africa including the University of Witwatersrand’s Graduate School of Public and Development Management in South Africa from 2010 to 2013. While there, Himbara led a team that succeeded in bringing the World Bank’s Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) to the university, where the program supports governmental clients throughout sub-Saharan Africa. In 2011, Himbara served as a lead consultant for the African Development Bank in Tunisia 2011, and in 2010, he served as chief strategist for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in South Africa. In addition, between 2011 and 2013, Himbara worked as a lead consultant at the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein, South Africa. A Rwandan-Canadian, Himbara spent a total of six years working for Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame: from 2006 to 2009 as the head of strategy and policy in the Office of the President and from 2000 to 2002 as the principal private secretary to the president. From 2002 to 2006, Himbara worked in South Africa, where, among other projects, he was the lead consultant for teams that conducted the country’s Ten Year Development Review. Himbara was a valued member of Knowledge Management Africa that coached government evidence-based policymaking. Himbara returned to Rwanda in 2006 after President Kagame offered him a leading role focused on socio-economic development. Tasked with improving national competitiveness, Himbara spearheaded efforts that ultimately improved Rwanda’s ranking in the World Bank’s annual Doing Business report from 143rd to 67th out of 183 countries; Rwanda was named top reformer by the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, 2010. In this phase, Himbara set up and headed the Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of The President. In this capacity, he led the establishment of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and was its founding Chairperson. He also led the setting up of the Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR) and became its founding chairperson. In addition, Himbara was the chairperson of the World Bank-funded Human and Institutional Development Agency (HIDA). Prior to his time in Rwanda, Himbara was based in South Africa working as a private consultant; major assignments included lead consultancy on trade and investment harmonization for the Southern African Community and lead strategist on Indonesian export policy into South Africa. He also lectured on economic development as a senior lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand from 1994 to 1997 and was an assistant professor at Southern University in Louisiana, USA, from 1991 to 1993. Himbara completed his Ph.D. in political economy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, in 1991. He is widely published on social and economic development in leading journals and online. Himbara’s dissertation on the role of domestic entrepreneurs and the state in the socioeconomic transformation was published as a book in 1994: Kenyan Capitalists, the State, and Development. Hismostrecentbook, Kagame’s Economic Mirage, was published in 2016. Himbara’s latest book is Kagame’s killing Fields.


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