UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | The Minister of State for Finance and Planning, Amos Lugoloobi, has been denied bail by the Anti-Corruption Court and remanded to Luzira Prison until April 20, 2023, over the iron sheet theft case.
Lugoloobi was arrested on Sunday April 15 and detained for his alleged involvement in the theft and diversion of 700 pieces of iron sheets meant for vulnerable people under the Karamoja Community Empowerment Program.
The State Finance Minister is accused of dealing with Suspect Property after iron sheets meant for the Karamoja subregion were found in his possession.
The Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala heard that Lugoloobi, dealt the government property while at the office of the Prime Minister Stores in Namanve, Mukono District and at different places in Matugga, Wakiso and Ntejeru North in Kayunga District.
It was reported earlier that Lugoloobi used some of the iron sheets he received to roof his piggery in Kayunga, but he denies the charges.
Sources say that Lugoloobi has been shunning CID summons and duping investigators that he is out of the country on official duties, whereas he is not.
The Prosecution led by State Attorneys Stanley Moses Baine, David Kisamunyu, Jonathan Muwaganya, and Safina Lule informed the court that investigations in this matter are still ongoing.
Police said the Director of Public Prosecutions authorised the arrest, part of ongoing investigations into the theft and diversion of iron sheets meant for the Karamoja region. This is the second arrest of a minister in recent weeks over the roofing sheets’ diversion.
Karamoja Affairs Minister, Mary Goretti Kitutu, was the first minister to be arrested on April 6, 2023, together with her brother Michael Naboya Kitutu.
They were charged with six offences including “loss of public property” and “conspiracy to defraud” over the diversion of 14,500 roofing iron sheets “to her own benefit and to the benefit of third parties”.
She pleaded not guilty but was still detained for eight days in Luzira Prison until Friday April 14 when she was released on bail by the Anti-Corruption Court.
They will return on April 27, 2023, for the Prosecution to inform the court about the status of the investigations.
The court also renewed Criminal Summons against Joshua Abaho, the Senior Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Karamoja Affairs in the office of the Prime Minister.
In December 2021, the Parliament passed a supplementary budget worth 39 billion shillings to support various programs in Karamoja.
Of these, 22 billion shillings were meant to purchase goats, while 5 billion shillings were allocated for the procurement of 100,000 iron sheets, which are now alleged to have been diverted for personal use by government officials.
President Museveni ordered an investigation into the theft of iron sheets and other relief items meant for the Karamoja Region, in response to increased complaints from the intended beneficiaries and concerned citizens.
The Director of Public Prosecution directed the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to work jointly with the State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SH/ACU) to conduct a criminal investigation into the matter.
CID stated last month that they were investigating the 22 Ministers, 31 MPs, and 13 Chief Administrative Officers scandal.
The Spokesperson of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Jacquelyn Okui has since stated that files of those implicated will be coming in piecemeal as and when they are forwarded by the Police, who are investigating the matter.
When the President wrote to Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, advising that those involved in the iron sheet scandal should return them, some officials, including Speaker Anita Among, heeded the advice and returned the iron sheets.
Karamoja, a remote region in North-Eastern Uganda bordering Kenya and South Sudan, is home to pastoral nomads vulnerable to frequent droughts and deadly cattle raids by warriors who use illegally acquired guns traded across porous borderlands.
Security personnel have been conducting a disarmament programme in the region and the roofing materials were intended for distribution to youths to encourage them to abandon illegal cattle raiding and other criminal activities.
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