KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions ODPP has closed 17 case files related to the alleged diversion of iron sheets meant for Karamoja over lack of sufficient evidence to pin the suspected officials.
The DPP, HW Jane Frances Abodo in March this year commenced investigations into the alleged diversion and mismanagement of iron sheets and other relief items meant for the Karamoja Community Empowerment Program at the OPM.
The investigations were led by the prosecution team under the guidance of the Criminal Investigation Directorate CID, State House Anti-Corruption Unit.
Out of the 23 file cases opened up, 17 cases have been thrown out because of insufficient evidence. Jacqueline Okui the ODPP Public Relations Officer PRO said, “In consideration of the blameworthiness of the suspects, a number of factors were taken into account including the circumstances under which the iron sheets were received, the manner of use of the iron sheets upon receipt and refunds made in cash and kind.”
“Thus far, 6100 iron sheets have been refunded in kind, 1000 paid in cash and 2295 recovered from suspects’ homes. About 5105 iron sheets are yet to be recovered,” she added.
Among the top officials who escaped being prosecuted include the Vice President, Jessica Alupo, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja and Speaker of Parliament Anita Annet Among, who seem to have been exonerated from the Karamoja iron sheets scandal.
DPP Abodo suggested that some of these officials were misled by their personal assistants, arguing that some of these officials were expecting iron sheets for as long as three years since they had applied to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) for the same.
“What was in the media and what was on the file is something so different because in the media it was actually that these ministers went and signed for these iron sheets but when you read on the file, you find that some of them were not even aware. They were just informed by their PAs [Personal Assistants] that we have received iron sheets, where do we take them?” she noted.
“We do not our investigations using media reports. We don’t take that as evidence, it may be the beginning of investigations but it doesn’t mean that we shall now use that. We use what is on the file.”
The latest development means that the only top officials who will be prosecuted for over the saga are: Karamoja Affairs Minister Dr Mary Goretti Kitutu, her junior Hon Agnes Nandutu and Planning State Minister Hon Amos Lugoloobi.
The trio will be charged along Minister Kitutu’s brother Michael Naboya Kitutu and her personal assistant Joshua Abaho on charges of causing loss of public property, corruption, and receiving stolen property.