KAMPALA, UGANDA: The State Minister for Finance (Planning), Hon Amos Lugoloobi has been granted a cash bail of shs 10m by the Anti-Corruption Court in Kololo where he is battling corruption charges related to the mismanagement of iron sheets meant for vulnerable communities in Karamoja region.
The Acting Principal Senior Grade One Magistrate, Ebert Asiimwe who presided over the Thursday afternoon session asked Mr Lugoloobi to surrender the original title of one of his pieces of land to court and cautioned against interfering with prosecution witnesses and leaving the country without permission.
He was also ordered to surrender his diplomatic passport while his seven sureties were asked to pay each UGX 100 million in non-cash after court found them substantial enough for the minister’s release.
The minister’s sureties included; Namutumba Woman MP Hon Mariam Naigaga, EALA MP Hon James Kakooza, Kiboga East MP Dr Kefa Kiwanuka, Moses Kalangwa, the NRM Chairperson in Kayunga district, and Mr Paul Mugambwa Sempa, a former ambassador of Uganda to Brazil; Mr Martin Ssekaja.
Others were; the Head of Operations at Uganda Security Printing Company and Dr Joseph Muvawaala, the executive director of the National Planning Authority/Busoga Kingdom prime minister.
Magistrate Asiimwe said failure by the minister to comply with the bail terms will lead to automatic cancellation of the bail before adjourning the case to June 2, 2023, when he’s expected to return to court.
The Ntenjeru North MP who was arrested last Friday was on Monday charged with two counts of dealing with suspect property contrary to section 21(a) of the Anti-Corruption Act.
According to state prosecution, it is alleged that between July 14, 2022, and February 28, 2023, and February 1, 2023, and March 16, 2023, at OPM Stores in Namanve in Mukono District and at different places in Matugga, Wakiso District and Ntenjeru North Constituency in Kayunga District, Mr Lugoloobi dealt with government property including 700 pre-painted iron sheets having reason to believe that they were acquired as a result of loss of public property under section 10 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act.
On the second count of the same charge, the prosecution contended that the minister between the same period and same places dealt with 300 pre-painted iron sheets.
Lugoloobi is one of the three ministers who have so far been charged in court over the scandal that has left President Museveni’s government struggling to save face following public outcry over increasing corruption and abuse of office among government officials.
Karamoja Affairs minister Dr Mary Goretti Kitutu was the first to face court and detention in Luzira where she was remanded until Friday, April 14 when she was granted a cash bail of Shs10 million.
Kitutu is jointly charged with her younger brother, Mr Michael Naboya Kitutu and Mr Joshua Abaho, the senior assistant secretary, Ministry of Karamoja Affairs in OPM.
While on Wednesday (yesterday), the State Minister for Karamoja affairs, Agnes Nandutu was charged and remanded to Luzira after the anti-corruption court committed her to the high court for trial.
Nandutu is expected to appear before the magistrate on May 3, 2023, for further mention of her case.
The three ministers who have so far been charged by the anti-corruption court have denied any wrongdoings in the scandal and the prosecution is expected to gather concrete evidence pinning the implicated officials.
What the law says
Both Mr Lugoloobi and Ms Nandutu were charged with dealing with suspect property contrary to Section 21A of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009 as indicated below;
(1) A person who deals with property that he or she believes or has reason to believe was acquired as a result of an offence under this Act commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred and sixty currency points or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding seven years or both.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a person deals with the property if that person—
(a) holds, receives or conceals the property;
(b) enters into a transaction in relation to the property or causes such a transaction to be entered into; or
(c) removes the property from the jurisdiction of court for the purpose of assisting any person to avoid confiscation of that property.
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