The hearing of the case in which State Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Amos Lugoloobi is implicated in the diversion of iron sheets meant for the vulnerable people of Karamoja has today started at the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala.
Lugoloobi on Wednesday appeared before the Anti Corruption Court Judge Margaret Tibulya where he is accused of dealing with suspect property.
The Prosecution alleges that Lugoloobi while at the office of the Prime Minister Stores in Namanve in Mukono District and at different places in Matuga , Wakiso District and Ntejeru North Constituency in Kayunga District dealt with government property that is 700 prepainted iron sheets marked ‘Office of the Prime Minister.
According to the Prosecution, the said iron sheets which were reportedly acquired as a result of loss of property, an offense under section 10 (1) of the Anti Corruption Court were obtained in two phases with one involving 400 iron sheets between July 14th 2022 and February 2023 , and another batch of 300 iron sheets obtained between February 1st 2023 and March 16th 2023.
Hearing today commenced with two prosecution witnesses Geoffrey Sseremba, the Undersecretary In-charge of Finance and Administration in the Office of the Prime Minister and Joshua Abaho, the Senior Assistant Secretary/Personal Assistant to the Minister for Karamoja Affairs Mary Gorreti Kitutu Kimono.
The first witness Sseremba has told Court that Kayunga District Ministers MPs and Churches were not among those listed as beneficiaries of these iron sheets. But that it was the nine Districts of Karamoja Sub-region to benefit in terms of peace building, economic empowerment and disarmament process.
He testified that the MPs from Karamoja region had to work with local leaders to support implementation of this programme through supervision and seeing to it that all the reformed worriers and vulnerable individuals who had been widowed due to cattle rustling benefit.
Minister Lugoloobi is the Member of Parliament for Ntenjeru North in Kayunga District and prosecution wants to prove that he was not among the intended beneficiaries .
He said there were a number of stake holders not only OPM such as ministry of defense, water, internal affairs, Parliament, local government offices. He told the Judge that there were consultations from all those stake holders to address the the insecurity and cattle wrestling.
Each ministry was to implement according to its mandate. But specifically the OPM was to support the livelihoods, sensitization in the economic Empowerment and discourage cattle wrestlers from the practice,” said Sseremba
He added that a budget was drafted and submitted to Parliament for approval which was done
Court has heard that all the nine districts in the Karamoja sub region such as Abimu, Amudata, Kotido, Moroto, Napak, Kabongo and Nakapiripirit were to benefit as along as those directed warriors are identified.
Just like Sseremba, Abaho who had testified as witness number two said the iron sheets were basically procured for Karamoja in order to resettle the karacunas who where involved in cattle wrestling, women groups which included churches, schools.
He has testified that the women groups were registered in groups and given sowing machines and would use those iron sheets to build shelters.
Court has heard that Abaho participated in the verification of the beneficiaries, the launch of the program which was presided over by the president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
He said in regards to the role of launch when the president confirmed his presence , Kitutu called him to her office where he found the under secretary Masagazi instructed to request for the iron sheets that would be used at the launch, prepare the logistics to be used by the minister and her team, prepare the speech that was to be used and prepare the travel of the goats.
“I wrote to the Accounting Officer through the head of department requesting him to cause release of 10,000 iron sheets and their transportation to Moroto for the launch. It was approved and sent to stores for release and its transportation,” said Abaho.
The trial is still ongoing with Prosecution led by Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Josephine Namatovu adducing more evidence and Lugoloobi is being presented by lawyers John Isabirye and Tony Tumukunde