Lawyer Male Mabirizi has filed a petition with the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala, seeking to halt the criminal case against Agness Nandutu, the State Minister for Karamoja Affairs, in connection with the iron sheets scandal.
In his application submitted on Wednesday, Mabirizi requests a suspension of the ongoing trial until his petition challenging the prosecution of politicians implicated in the iron sheets scandal is resolved.
The Prosecution alleges that in June 2022, at the office of the Prime Minister’s Stores in Namanve and Kkola Cell Bulwanyi Parish, Mukono District, Nandutu was involved in dealing with government property, specifically 2,000 pre-painted iron sheets of Gauge 28.
The Prosecution contends that Nandutu had reason to believe that these iron sheets were acquired through the loss of public property, constituting an offense under section 10 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2000 as Amended.
The hearing for Nandutu’s case is scheduled for June 8th, 2023, before Anti-Corruption Court Lady Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga. However, Mabirizi seeks a postponement of the proceedings until July 4th, 2023, when the Anti-Corruption Court Judge Lawrence Gidudu will decide on his broader legal challenge regarding the accountability of politicians in cases involving missing items from their respective departments and ministries.
Mabirizi’s pending case includes a request for a permanent injunction to restrain the Director of Public Prosecutions from further prosecuting ministers in relation to the alleged misappropriation of iron sheets from the Office of the Prime Minister.
He argues that politicians, including the Vice President, Ministers, Speakers, and Local Government leaders, should not be held personally responsible for accounting matters since their role primarily involves policy-making. Mabirizi asserts that the accountability for missing items should lie with the accounting officers, not the political heads.
He expresses concern that continued prosecution of politicians in such cases may deter individuals from joining the political sphere, resulting in the employment of technical personnel who should bear the accountability burden instead. Furthermore, Mabirizi contends that the Constitution provides alternative mechanisms for punishing politicians in such situations, including termination of appointments, recall from office, and civil proceedings for the recovery of misappropriated property.
He argues that criminal proceedings against politicians are not necessary. Mabirizi’s pending case raises crucial issues concerning the criminal liability of political leaders and the need for comprehensive investigations and prosecutions. He warns of the potential harm to his case if Nandutu’s trial proceeds as scheduled, rendering his broader petition ineffective.
He asserts that failure to grant his application would result in irreparable harm. “The applicant will suffer irreparable injury if this application is not granted. The balance of convenience is in favor of granting the application,” says Mabirizi. He argues that granting the application is essential to uphold justice and fairness in the proceedings.