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.
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.”
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.