Kampala, Uganda: The State Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Ms Agnes Nandutu, has been granted bail by the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court. This comes after being arraigned before courts of law in connection with the alleged diversion of iron sheets meant for vulnerable people in the Karamoja sub-region. The trial Judge Jane Okuo Kajuga granted Nandutu a cash bail of Shs10 million, while her sureties were bonded of Shs50 million each.
The judge outlined the bail terms, which included depositing two land titles registered in her name to the court and surrendering her passport, meaning she cannot travel outside without the court’s permission. One of her sureties, Mr Nandala Mafabi, was also instructed to deposit his land title suited at Namugongo. These terms were set to ensure the Minister’s attendance and compliance with the court’s requirements.
Judge Kajuga noted that Ms Nandutu satisfied the court that she suffers from a medical complication that requires a rapid emergency response. The evidence presented by the police, which claimed that the Minister had evaded them, was considered hearsay and not admissible in court. Instead, the court relied on the fact that the Minister voluntarily surrendered herself to the police.
Justice Kajuga acknowledged that the applicant is a family person with young children and elderly parents to look after. She further stated that her attendance can be secured by imposing stringent terms. The Minister’s application for bail was based on various grounds, including her constitutional right to get bail, being a law-abiding citizen who has voluntarily reported to the police whenever called upon, and her severe venous insufficiency condition, which requires specialized medical attention.
Other bail grounds presented by the Minister included having a fixed place of abode at Nantabulirwa Village in Seeta, Mukono District, within the court’s jurisdiction, having a young family and elderly parents who all depend on her, bringing sound and substantial sureties, promising to abide by the bail conditions that court will impose on her, and the offense she is charged with being bailable.
The prosecution alleges that between June and July 2022, at the Office of the Prime Minister’s stores in Namanve and in Kkola Cell, Bulwanyi Parish, Mukono District, the Minister privately dealt with government property, which consisted of 2,000 pre-painted iron sheets of gauge 28 marked Office of the Prime Minister. It further alleges that the Minister received the iron sheets that were acquired as a result of the loss of public property, an offense under Section 10 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2009 as amended.
Ms Nandutu is not the only minister to be implicated in this scandal. She is among three ministers who have so far been arraigned before courts of law. The other two ministers are Ms. Mary Goretti Kitutu, the Karamoja Affairs Minister, and Amos Lugoloobi, the State Minister for Finance, Planning, and Economic Development. The outcome of this case will be eagerly awaited by the public, who have been following the developments with great interest.