Kampala, (UG): The Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala has issued fresh criminal summons against Karamoja Affairs Minister Mary Goretti Kitutu Kimono over charges related to causing government financial loss of 1.5 billion shillings.
The summons were issued by the Grade One Magistrate Christopher Opit requiring her to appear in court on February 29th 2024.
Court on Wednesday heard that between February and June 2022, while performing her duties as Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Kitutu failed to conduct various peace-building activities in the Karamoja sub-region knowing or having reason to believe that her omission would cause financial loss and indeed caused loss of Uganda shillings 1,555,365,000 to the Government of Uganda.
Kitutu is being charged together with Geoffrey Sseremba the Secretary/Accounting Officer, Deogratius Masagazi – Under Secretary/Head of the Department, Pacification and Development Programme, Tracy Atuhirwe Accountant all from the Office of the Prime Minister.
The summons follows the amendment of charges by the Inspectorate of Government against seven OPM officials dropping five of them and maintaining two including Sseremba and Masagazi.
The amended charge sheet tendered before the court by Prosecutors Diana Nantabazi and William Moses Ntumwa has now introduced Minister Kitutu and the Head of Accounts at OPM Atuhirwe.
Sseremba and Masagazi who were present in Court have been charged afresh with Corruption and they maintained a plea of not guilty before and through their lawyers applied their already granted bail to be maintained, which the Court allowed with no objection from the Prosecutors from the office of the Inspectorate of Government.
It is alleged that they authorised a total cash payment of 2,230,291,000 shillings to various staff within the Office of the Prime Minister including Kitutu which they obtained for the benefits themselves after Atuhirwe had failed to properly manage and account for it.
According to Minister Kitutu, she is currently on sick leave as she states in her statement that she has been ill for the past 10 days. Kitutu still maintains her innocence saying she is not an accounting officer to be held accountable for the said loss.
“Now, regarding this matter of allegedly causing a financial loss, the public should know that I have never written any request for funds to go to the field to conduct peace-building activities in Karamoja,” says Kitutu.
“I am not a technical person and do not therefore get involved in the technical aspects of this role. My role as a Minister is to give policy guidance and not to get directly involved in the implementation of activities. I am sure this is well known to the IGG who herself was a Cabinet Minister less than two years ago.”
“The IGG, Hon Beti Kamya Turwome, herself went to court to challenge recommendations of a Parliamentary Committee against her n Miscellaneous Cause No.209 of 2022 Beti Kamya Turwome vs Attorney General & COSASE, whose ruling was delivered on 31st May 2023, the court quashed a parliamentary recommendation that the Honourable Beti be investigated in respect to participation in commencement of a 10.6 billion payment for allegedly initiating an irregular supplementary budget,” Kitutu added.
Through her lawyers led by Jude Byamukama, the minister contends that the IGG therefore knows quite well, or ought to know the importance of due process, avoiding biased investigations and the role of courts in protecting all individuals against lawlessness by government agencies.
“I did not withdraw any funds and have never requisitioned for funds for such purpose,” Kitutu says. “I challenge the IGG to publicize any such requests from me. They do not exist In any case, how does the failure to allegedly perform activities result into loss of government funds? The public should be able to see through this charade of lawlessness and irrationality.”
This is the second file being levied against Minister Kitutu in less than a year, the first one being where she is implicated in the diversion of iron sheets in the office of the prime minister where trial is starting next month.
Kitutu has since challenged the summons that were issued against her by the IGG which have now resulted into these criminal summons and the ruling is expected on January 31 before the Anti-Corruption Court Judge Jane Okuo Kajuga.
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