UGANDA, Karamoja | Real Muloodi News | On Thursday, the State Minister for Planning, Amos Lugoloobi, was granted bail by the Anti-Corruption Court in Kololo, Kampala, after being on remand since Monday following his arrest over the Karamoja iron sheets scandal.
Principal Senior Grade One Magistrate, Ebert Asiimwe, granted Mr Lugoolobi bail on several conditions, including paying USh10 million in cash, surrendering the original title of one of his pieces of land to the court, and obtaining permission from the court before leaving Uganda.
Additionally, Minister Lugoolobi was ordered to surrender his diplomatic passport, and each of his seven sureties was bonded at USh100 million non-cash. The magistrate warned that noncompliance with the bail conditions would result in the automatic cancellation of the bail.
Mr Lugoloobi is charged with two counts of dealing with suspect property contrary to Sections 21A of the Anti-Corruption Act (as amended).
According to the charge sheet, Mr Lugoloobi dealt with government property on two occasions, on July 14, 2022, and between February 1, 2023, and March 16, 2023, at various locations, including Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Stores in Namanve in Mukono District, Matugga in Wakiso District, and Ntenjeru North Constituency in Kayunga District.
It is further alleged Mr Lugoloobi had reason to believe the the iron sheets were acquired as a result of loss of public property, which is an offense under section 10(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act.
During his court appearance on Monday, the minister pleaded not guilty to both charges and broke down in the dock. However, he appeared relieved after Thursday’s bail hearing.
His lawyers argued for bail on the grounds of his poor health and advanced age, including a heart condition that requires regular medical attention. Lugoloobi has received treatment at Nairobi Hospital and the Uganda Heart Institute in recent years, including spending two months in intensive care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister Lugoloobi, who represents the Ntenjeru North constituency in Parliament, arrived at court to a crowd of supporters, including his relatives, government officials, and politicians from Kayunga District. However, the magistrate warned that [supporters’] numbers were irrelevant, and only the law mattered.
The Minister’s supporters and family who had packed the courtroom celebrated outside the Anti-Corruption court after he was released on bail.
State Minister for Finance, Amos Lugoloobi's supporters celebrate outside the Anti-Corruption court in Kololo, Kampala after he was released on bail. The Minister is charged with offences related to the theft of iron sheets meant for vulnerable communities in Karamoja. #NTVNews pic.twitter.com/jIAUW2X3lB
— NTV UGANDA (@ntvuganda) April 20, 2023
Mr Lugoloobi is one of three ministers charged in court over the Karamoja iron sheets scandal that has sparked public outrage over government officials’ corruption and abuse of office.
The first to face court and detention was Karamoja Affairs Minister Mary Goretti Kitutu, who was remanded until April 14, when she was released on bail of USh10 million cash. She is jointly charged with her younger brother, Michael Naboya Kitutu, and Joshua Abaho, the senior assistant secretary at the Ministry of Karamoja Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister.
State Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Agnes Nandutu, was charged and remanded a day after handing herself over to the police. She was committed to the High Court for trial and is expected to appear before the magistrate on May 3, 2023, for further mention of her case.
Both Mr Lugoloobi and Ms. Nandutu were charged with dealing with suspect property, a violation of Section 21A of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009, which carries a fine not exceeding one hundred and sixty currency points or a term of imprisonment not exceeding seven years, or both.
The case was adjourned to June 2, 2023, when the minister is expected to return to court.
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