Iron Sheets Scandal: Parliament Recommends For Prosecution Of Karamoja Ministers
The Committee on Presidential Affairs has recommended the prosecution of the Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Hon. Mary Goretti Kitutu, her deputy, Hon. Agnes Nandutu and the State Minister for Finance, Hon. Amos Lugoloobi, for the mismanagement of relief items meant for vulnerable persons in Karamoja.
The Committee Chairperson, Hon. Jesca Ababiku, presented the report to the House on Tuesday, 23 May 2023.
The committee observed that Kitutu picked 6,000 iron sheets from stores of the Office of the Prime Minister in two consignments of 3000 between 2022 and 2023, which she kept at her home.
Ababiku said that the minister declined to divulge information or table the list of alleged recipients of the mismanaged iron sheets, but instead requested an off-camera meeting in which she would disclose the recipients.
“The committee interpreted the uncooperative behaviour of the minister in refusing to provide information regarding the recipients of the mismanaged iron sheets as contempt of Parliament,” said Ababiku.
The committee established that Kitutu’s actions breached the Constitution, and contravened the Leadership Code Act, 2002, the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009 and Rule 85 of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament.
“The committee recommends that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) prosecutes Hon. Mary Kitutu for corruption, abuse of office and generally prohibited conduct contrary to the Anti-Corruption Act and Leadership Code Act,” reads the committee report in part.
Ababiku noted that Nandutu received a donation of 2000 pieces of iron sheets from the Minister for Karamoja Affairs.
Nandutu later told the committee that she received the iron sheets because some of the people in her constituency in Bududa had lost their houses due to landslides.
“The committee observes the actions of Hon. Nandutu Agnes were pre-meditated for personal gain which amounted to abuse of office. Being a substantive Minister of State for Karamoja, Hon. Nandutu was expected to be privy to the internal workings, programmes and activities of the ministry,” said Ababiku.
The committee also recommended that Nandutu is charged with the offences of corruption, abuse of office and generally prohibited conduct contrary to the Anti-Corruption Act and Leadership Code Act.
The committee also recommended that DPP prosecutes the State Minister for Finance, Hon. Amos Lugoloobi for the offence of loss of public property contrary to Section 10(3) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009.
The three Ministers have since been charged by the Anti-Corruption Court, remanded and released on bail.
The committee also investigated the procurement process and distribution of goats to the intended recipient communities.
“A total of 75,000 females and 5,000 males were to be acquired as per the plan with a total price of Shs25.68 billion, although Shs26.09 billion was used to procure 73,900 goats,” Ababiku said.
The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, deferred debate on the report citing Rule 73(1) and (2) of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure that point out matters of sub-judice and the limitations of parliamentary debate in matters that are already in courts of law.
“The components to do with iron sheets are sub-judice. When we started this investigation, we did not have anything that was sub-judice but along the way, the government took it up,” Tayebwa said.
The Attorney General, Hon Kiryowa Kiwanuka, however, proposed that the debate on the committee report is deferred until the matters in court have been completed.
“In my opinion, it will be very difficult to discuss any part of this matter which relates to the Office of the Prime Minister and the matter of Karamoja, without offending the rule of sub-judice,” Kiryowa Kiwanuka said.