• Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

FDC Criticises DPP for Closing Files in Iron Sheets Scandal

UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), an opposition political party, has expressed its disapproval of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decision to close 17 files related to the Karamoja iron sheets scandal.

During a media briefing at the party headquarters in Najjanankumbi, Kampala, Mr John Kikonyogo, the deputy party spokesperson, criticised the premature closure of the files and its potential impact on the fight against corruption in the country.

Mr Kikonyogo acknowledged the DPP’s authority to discontinue a case but emphasised that the iron sheets scandal is a matter of great interest to Ugandans invested in combating corruption.

He expressed concerns that the DPP’s decision could demoralise anti-graft institutions across the country, questioning the government’s commitment to the fight against corruption and the effectiveness of anti-corruption units.

Over the weekend, DPP Jane Frances Abodo announced the closure of files involving 17 government officials implicated in the iron sheets scandal, including high-profile individuals such as the Speaker of Parliament, the Vice President, and the Prime Minister.

According to Ms Abodo, no incriminating evidence was found to warrant the prosecution of the suspects. Mr Kikonyogo raised questions about the DPP’s decision, particularly why the returned iron sheets and the refunded money were not used as evidence.

He argued that the act of returning stolen property does not necessarily absolve one of legal responsibility.

Ms Abodo clarified that out of the 40 police files reviewed by her office, 17 were closed, while three are still under investigation.

She stated that factors such as the circumstances surrounding the receipt and use of the iron sheets and the refunds made were considered in determining the culpability of the suspects.

She emphasised that the absence of evidence prevents the prosecution from pursuing charges based solely on public demand.

The iron sheets scandal originated from the purchase of 100,000 iron sheets using emergency funds for distribution to vulnerable individuals in the Karamoja sub-region.

It was discovered that 14,500 of the iron sheets, intended for the Karamoja Community Empowerment Programme (KCEP) valued at USh39 billion, were illegally distributed among ministers and government officials.

Subsequently, three ministers and several officials from the Office of the Prime Minister were arrested and faced charges ranging from abuse of office to causing financial loss to the government.

In a letter to the prime minister, President Museveni denounced the implicated ministers as thieves and directed them to return the stolen iron sheets or pay the equivalent value in cash.

To date, 6,100 iron sheets have been returned, while some individuals have made cash payments equivalent to the value of 1,000 pieces. Additionally, investigators have recovered 2,295 iron sheets from the homes of suspects.

However, approximately 5,105 iron sheets remain unaccounted for.

Efforts to reach the DPP’s office for comment were unsuccessful, as calls to the public relations officer went unanswered.


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