The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has dropped charges against 4 Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) officials who had been accused of inflating prices of food meant for the vulnerable poor under the COVID-19 food relief program.
The officials include former OPM Permanent Secretary Christine Guwatudde Kintu, and accounting officer Joel Wanjala, assistant procurement commissioner Fred Lutimba and Martin Owor, head of COVID-19 relief management.
The four were arrested by the State House anti-corruption unit after conducted a special investigation into the procurement of the relief items last year.
The DPP had alleged that in abuse of the authority of their respective offices; Guwatudde and Kyeyune prepared and issued an award letter to various companies to supply maize, beans, milk, and sugar amounting to Shs32.3 billion in total disregard of the procurement procedures.
The four had again jointly been charged with Martin Owor for colluding to commit a fraudulent practice between March and April 2020.
In August 2020, the DPP ordered for the trial of the accused persons to start before the Anti-corruption division of the High Court.
However, in a letter dated August 19, 2021 and signed by the DPP herself, charges of abuse of office, fraudulent false accounting, and corruption have been dropped. No reason has been stated by justice Abodo to withdraw the 24 counts against the officials.
Corruption is rampant in Uganda but implicated top government officials rarely get successfully prosecuted.
Technocrats in the OPM have previously been accused of siphoning funds meant for refugees, accusations that led to some donors to temporarily halt aid.