Karamoja Iron Sheets Scandal: Minster Agnes Nandutu Released On Bail
State Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Agnes Nandutu has finally been granted bail after spending in the coolers of Luzira prison.
The Anti Corruption Court Judge Jane Okuo Kajuga granted Nandutu who also doubles as the Bududa District Woman MP a cash bail of Shs10 million after citing her poor health condition.
According to the judge, evidence has been provided to show that Nandutu is sickly with a likelihood of the sickness worsening, noting that prison authorities have not shown proof they can handle her sickness.
“I am of the view that the minister has proved she is medically ill and under treatment to avoid the reoccurrence of a blood clot. No medical report from any other medical personnel has been tendered to dispute this.”
The judge also dismissed the fears of the DPP that Nandutu is likely to abscond once granted bail, basing the assertion on claims that when she learnt of the police summons, she went into hiding.
The trial judge however dismissed the same as not proven, noting it is just speculation.
“It is based more on suspicion than on fact. I cannot reach conclusion that the accused had disappeared on the knowledge that she was wanted as a suspect. There is no formal proof of abscondment.”
Justice Okuo explained that whereas it is true that the police found difficulty in looking for Minister Nandutu, this is not proof that she was in hiding.
She, therefore, noted that she is not a flight risk as had been said by the DPP’s representatives but was quick to add that any fear of escaping can only be erased by imposing stringent terms onto the minister.
The judge also dismissed the assertions by the DPP that two of Nandutu’s three sureties were not substantial.
She reasoned that having fixed places of abode and having employment is enough to make them substantial sureties in this particular case.
“They hold positions of responsibility in society and are mature enough with the capacity to influence her to attend court when required. The three sureties are therefore substantial in the circumstances of this case,” Justice Okuo said.
According to the judge, since the minister has a family with young children, is sickly, and has a fixed place of abode within the court’s jurisdiction, it is only fair that she be released on bail to ensure she can attend trial while coming from home.
The judge however said in order to allay fears of escape, it is prudent that stringent terms are imposed while granting Minister Nandutu bail.
Lady Justice Okuo directed Nandutu to pay a ssh10 million cash bond whereas each of the three sureties is to pay shs50 million non-cash bond.
Nandutu was also asked to deposit two titles of her land in Mukono whereas one of her sureties has also been asked to deposit the title of his land located in Namugongo.
“The accused should deposit her passport with the court and should not travel outside the jurisdiction of this court without permission,” Justice Okuo ruled.
The judge said Nandutu will report to court as directed in the main case where the trial has been scheduled to kick off on May 25, 2023.
The minister is charged with dealing with suspect property contrary to section 21a(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2009 was read for her.
Under the charge, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) contends that during the month of June 2022, at the OPM stores Namanve, Mukono District and Kkola cell, Bulwanyi Parish in Mukono district, the minister dealt with 2000 pre-painted iron sheets of gauge 28 by receiving and holding the said iron sheets which she had reason to believe were acquired as a result of loss of public property, an offence under section 10(1) of the Anti Corruption Act 2009.
Nandutu denied the charges.
Additional Reporting By Nilepost