Attorney General dragged to court over corruption probe against Speaker Among

A photo combo of Speaker Anita AMong and the Lawyer Joshua Okello (photo/File)

Kampala, (UG):- In what seems to be a controversial move, renowned Soroti City lawyer, Joshua Okello has dragged the Attorney General of Uganda seeking to block a probe into corruption claims against Speaker Anita Among and banning public discussions into the exorbitant expenditure of parliament she heads.

Last week, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Joel Ssenyonyi wrote to Anti-corruption agencies including the Inspectorate of Government, the Financial Intelligence Authority FIA, the Directorate of Public Prosecution – DPP, and the Office of the Auditor General arguing that Anita Among and the Clerk to Parliament, Mr Adolf Mwesige were involved in the questionable expenditure of billions of public tax for personal gains.

However, this probe seems to have hit a dead end after Lawyer Okello petitioned the High Court in Kampala seeking declaration orders to halt any further investigations against the personality of the Speaker and the institution leads.

In a March 27 affidavit, listing the Attorney General as a respondent, Okello, under miscellaneous cause number 0051 argues that the matter should be left to the Inspectorate of government or an independent commission be appointed to investigate, other than the country’s chief attorney.

According to Okello’s affidavit, the current trend in Uganda about the #Uganda parliament exhibition on social media that was sparked by LoP Ssenyonyi demanding for the speaker of parliament to account to the public her office expenditure and the clerk of parliament which is allocated in the 2024/25 budget is illegal, ultra vires and infringe on her right to privacy.

“The leader of opposition in Parliament Joel Ssenyonyi through social media sites and press conferences tasked the speaker of Parliament Right Hon Anita Annet Among to respond to all corruption allegations of parliament if the institution is to live its vision of a people-centered parliament as claimed. The director communication and public affairs Parliament of Uganda Chris Obore immediately disregarded the call by the leader of opposition because parliament does not account for the press. However, a following week, social media accusations loosely called the #UgandaParliamentExhibition began and this threw the house into public scrutiny especially the office of the speaker,” his affidavit reads in part.

Okello stresses that the move to probe the speaker has irredeemably tarnished the image of the parliament of Uganda and that of her office, adding that; the tenure and numeration of the office of the speaker don’t have to be discussed in the public eye as this will injure and reduce the integrity of the office of the speaker of parliament.

“The respondent’s action of actions and its servants have or will diminish public confidence in the institution of parliament which is tasked with the constitutional duty of oversight role and appropriation of money to all other sectors of money to all other sectors of government on top of its cardinal role of formulation laws” he states.

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Listed court declarations

Okello in his affidavit therefore seeks orders from the high court to declare that “investigation of the respondent’s agents or servants and inquiries into payment made under orders of some of the parliamentary members are ultra vires, illegal and infringe on the right of privacy of privileged information and the independence of parliament.”

He also wants court to declare that the order of the respondent’s agents to produce generic and personal information regarding transactions on the speaker’s account details and the sum paid on such accounts are ultra vires, illegal and infringed on the independence of the office of the speaker and the commissions.

Court is also compelled to issue a declaration prohibiting and restraining the respondent, his agents or servant from demanding or forcing the speaker of parliament from releasing personal account details of members of the commission of parliament, unspecified payments and bank account details.

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The lawyer also seeks court rewards to award general damages and costs of his application.

Until now, Uganda’s eleventh Parliament finds itself cast in the mould of cash bonanza in the at-times perilous fight against the unbridled theft and other abuse of taxpayer’s money, with the Speaker of the Hosue Anita Among at the centre of the allegations.

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