KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Minister of State for Karamoja Affairs, Hon Agnes Nandutu has petitioned the Constitutional Court seeking orders to halt her corruption trial in the high court over the iron sheets saga.
The minister through her petition filed before the court on Wednesday contends that the offence of dealing with suspect property that she is charged with is not well defined as demanded by the Constitution.
“The elements/ ingredients for the offence as provided for under Section 21 A (2) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009 as amended are ambiguous, vague and too broad to amount to a precise definition of an offence which is what is required under Article 28 (12) of the 1995 Constitution,” says Ms Nandutu.
She adds: “…I further state that the provision of Section 21 A (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2015 under which I was charged with, is too imprecise from a penal legislation.” She also avers that the precision and clarity in the definition of a criminal offence is essential if she is to have a fair trial.
Ms Nandutu, who is also the Bududa District Woman MP also contents that the offences that she is being charged with are not sufficiently, defined as required by Article 28 (12).
According to her, this ambiguity permits the police and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to arbitrarily arrest and detain people in the absence of reasonable suspicion and on an assumption of being in possession of suspect property.
Nandutu through her lawyers of Alaka & Co. Advocates and Nandaah Wamukoota & Co. Advocates wants the minister wants the Constitutional Court to halt the trial and issue a permanent injunction restraining the DPP from prosecuting her until her petition is heard and determined.
The minister is expected to appear before the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court in Kololo, Kampala today as commencement into her trial starts.
Prosecution told court last month that Ms Nandutu between June and July 2022, at the Office of the Prime Minister’s stores in Namanve, and in Kkola Cell, Bulwanyi Parish, Mukono District, dealt with government property to which 2,000 pre-painted iron sheets of gauge 28 marked ‘Office of the Prime Minister.’
It is further alleged that Ms Nandutu receiving and holding the said iron sheets, had a reason to believe that they were acquired as a result of loss of public property, an offence under Section 10 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2009 as amended.
The journalist-turned-politician was last month charged and sent to Luzira prison for dealing with suspect property in connection with the Karamoja iron sheets scandal. She however got temporary when the court granted her bail on shs 10m cash after spending close to three weeks in Luzira.
Nandutu is among three ministers who have so far been arraigned before courts of law in connection with the alleged diversion of iron sheets meant for vulnerable people of Karamoja.
Others are Dr Mary Goretti Kitutu (Karamoja Affairs) and Mr Amos Lugoloobi (State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development).
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