• Sun. May 28th, 2023

Karamoja Iron Sheets Scandal: Probe Expands to Office of the Prime Minister

UGANDA, Karamoja | Real Muloodi News | The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Uganda, Justice Jane Frances Abodo, revealed that her office has extended investigations to officials in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in connection with the diversion of iron sheets meant for vulnerable people in Karamoja and would inquire into the entire procurement process before she wraps up the iron sheets investigations.

However, Justice Abodo also revealed that her office had rejected eight police case files that were sent to them for perusal over the iron sheets case.

The files were sent back to the police for further inquiries as there were more investigations to be done.

“We received eight files a week ago, we read them and we found out that there were inquiries to be done and we sent them back to police to actually finish up,” Justice Abodo said.

Justice Abodo did not disclose the particulars of the said files nor what needs to be further inquired into.

It is estimated that only three more weeks will be required to complete its investigations into the Office of the Prime Minister, according to Inspector General of Government, Betty Olive Kamya.

The Karamoja Affairs Ministry received a supplementary budget of USh39 billion in 2021, which was meant for the disarmament and community empowerment programme in Karamoja.

The money was to be used to procure goats and iron sheets for the reformed youth warriors known as karachunas, and other vulnerable groups like the elderly and women in the sub-region.

However, there are concerns that the investigations may be hampered by the influence of the individuals implicated in the scandal.

Some have called for the involvement of independent institutions such as the Auditor General’s Office and the Inspectorate of Government to ensure that the investigations are carried out fairly and transparently.

Nonetheless, Justice Abodo denied allegations of selective prosecution of the ministers, explaining that some of the suspects could have given the iron sheets to many beneficiaries and that in such scenarios, they take a longer time to investigate compared to a suspect who gave the iron sheets to one beneficiary like a school.

She added that some places are far away, so it’s not about the in-out method. If there is evidence, a particular file is taken to court, but if not ready, the police are asked to carry out further inquiries.

Investigators and Cabinet sources said the arrests, which mirror a similar crackdown over procurement-related corruption during Uganda’s hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2007, have spread fear and panic among ministers.

One of the ministers had reportedly hidden at the residence of a senior colleague before eventually turning themselves over to detectives for questioning, which ended in their detention.

Evidence of the mounting pressure has manifested in a rush by recipients returning the iron sheets to the stores of the OPM, home of the Karamoja Affairs Ministry in the eye of the storm.

A junior minister turned up at the headquarters of the Police’s Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) in Kibuli, a Kampala suburb, last Thursday to tell investigators that they were ready to cooperate and should not be disgraced with an arrest.

So far, three ministers have been arraigned in the Anti-Corruption Court and charged over the Karamoja iron sheets saga that has since implicated dozens of ministers and MPs.

The DPP also listed several achievements her office had attained, including the launch of the virtual prosecutors’ academy and the digitalisation of the complaints management feedback desk, among others.

She also assured the hundreds of prosecutors who had gathered from all over the country that there is a high chance that starting July, the new financial year, their salaries would not be taxed like other civil servants.

Currently, the salaries of judicial officers and security personnel like the police are not taxed.


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