The hearing of the case in which the state minister for Karamoja Affairs Agnes Nandutu is accused of diverting iron sheets meant for vulnerable people of Karamoja failed to continue today at Anti-Corruption court.
Hearing of the case was supposed to continue with the prosecution presenting more witnesses for cross-examination before lady justice Jane Okuo Kajuga, but the state attorney Innocent Aleto told court that the prosecutor, David Bisamunyu who has been handling the case and was expected to lead two witnesses had an accident at his home and was told to rest.
Aleto thus asked court for an adjournment. Nandutu's lawyer Caleb Alaka said they were ready to proceed, but they had no objection to the request of Aleto. Justice Kajuga adjourned the case to November 6, saying that the reason given justifies an adjournment.
Prosecution alleges that during June 2022, at the Office of the Prime Minister's stores in Namanve and Kkola Cell Bulwanyi parish, Mukono district, Nandutu dealt with government property consisting of 2,000 pre-painted iron sheets gauge 28. She is accused of receiving and holding these iron sheets, which the prosecution claims were obtained as a result of the loss of public property, an offense falling under Section 10 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2000 as amended.
Prosecution has so far presented two witnesses in Nandutu’s trial namely; Evelyn Hilda Bazibu a political assistant to Nandutu who is also the program scheduler at NTV where the accused worked before she turned to elective politics and OPM undersecretary Geoffrey Sseremba.
Bazibu admitted before court that she received, signed for, and collected the iron sheets on behalf of the minister. Sseremba whose role is to manage expenditures at OPM said that in 2022, a total of Shs 39.94 billion was approved for peace-building activities in the Karamoja sub-region.
He added that the key to the intervention was to address the disadvantaged situations, promote or cause development in the form of infrastructure, and also extend social welfare services such as schools and health centers to the people of Karamoja. It was hoped that the interventions would persuade the people of Karamoja to embrace disarmament and abandon cattle rustling.
Target groups such as youth, women, Local Councils, and the elderly were equally to be sensitized to embrace development. Sseremba told court that all those activities had to be fulfilled through the procurement of goats and iron sheets to be distributed at no cost to the targeted beneficiaries or the people of Karamoja.
He further testified that MM Integrated Steel Mills and Roofings Uganda Limited were contracted to supply 10,000 pieces of painted iron sheets gauge 28′ although the projection was about 100,000 pieces of iron sheets. He confirmed that the iron sheets were delivered to the OPM stores at Namanve.
Sseremba, is himself battling charges before the same court for causing the government a loss of money by corruptly releasing Shs 4 billion to various people for peace-building activities in Karamoja without a proper work plan.