Her question was a good one. “Why commit me to the High Court, when the Magistrate’s court has Jurisdiction to handle this case?” The good sensible answer before asking her shitty question is, Agnes Nandutu is a big person, she has to appear before a big court. Just like the others, too.
Speaking to journalists before boarding the Uganda Prisons Services vehicle, Nandutu said, “I admit I have been baptized with fire, but I’m firm.” This, before adding the whys above. So, on Wednesday April 19th State Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Agnes Nandutu became the first minister to be committed to High Court for trial over the Karamoja iron sheets scandal.
Nandutu had prior on Tuesday 18th, after counts of eluding summons, handed herself over to police and on Wednesday at exactly 11am, she was chauffeured to the Anti-Corruption Court in Kololo by police. This was after spending a night in cells at Kira Division Police Station. During the proceedings at the Anti-Corruption Court in Kololo, it wasn’t good-humoured for the ever-cheerful legislator.
Nandutu was paraded before Grade One Magistrate Esther Asiimwe. She was read one count related to diverting of iron sheets meant for the Karamoja Community Empowerment Program. A charge of dealing with suspect property contrary to section 21a (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2009 was also read to her.
Under the charge, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) contends that during the month of June 2022, at the OPM stores in 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 onto them, which she had reason to believe, were acquired as a result of loss of public property. This offence features under section 10 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2009.
Nandutu denied the charges saying that its true she understands the charges but were not contextually correct. The prosecution led by David Bisamunyu told court that investigations into the matter were complete, before reading the DPP’s instructions to the case trial sitting magistrate. “Your worship, I have instructions from the DPP to have the accused committed to High Court for trial. Present with me are committal papers,” Bisamunyu told court.
The trial magistrate would later read Nandutu’s indictment to court and committed her for trial. “The accused is hereby committed for trial in the next court session,” the Magistrate Esther Asiimwe said. The state prosecutor also told court he was ready to disclose all the evidence to be used to pin Minister Nandutu.
Nandutu’s lawyer Charles Nandah, however pleaded with court over his client’s unfair treatment and the court proceedings. “This was unfair and was deliberate by the state to fail the applicant’s efforts to apply for bail. The state has done this while in the know of the health condition of the applicant,” Nandah said. The state minister has been adjourned up to May 3rd this year.
She joins her senior Minister, Mary Goretti Kitutu and another colleague, Amos Lugoloobi (state for Finance), to be arraigned before court over the iron sheet saga. Several other senior government officials including the Vice President Jessica Alupo, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija among others, have also been implicated in the saga.
At least eight ministers in total are lined up to be arraigned in court over the iron sheets saga, according to the investigating officers handling the matter. Speaking to journalists before boarding the Uganda Prisons Services vehicle, Nandutu said, “I admit I have been baptized with fire, but I’m firm.”
- Mr. Jacko David Waluluka is another unique entertainment and general investigative news writer, a field he has diligently covered for over fifteen years. He’s also the Chief Administrator at The Investigator. He can easily be reached via [email protected]
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