The Minister for Karamoja Affairs Mary Gorreti Kitutu Kimono has petitioned the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala challenging the summons issued against her by the Inspectorate of Government.
The IGG, Beti Kamya had summoned the Minister to provide information in respect to the management of supplementary funds that were released to the Office of the Prime Minister to support peace-building activities in Karamoja Sub-Region in FY 2021/2022.
The Kitutu did not turn up at IGG as directed by the IGG on December 6th, 2023. Her lawyer, Jude Byamukama insists that she has not has not snubbed the summons as might be claimed.
“She did not appear because she’s ill. But also, we have legal objections to the legality of summoning her. We have articulated our reasons” he said. URN has seen a letter that JByabakama Advocates wrote of the IGG.
In the letter, the IGG is informed of the fact that Kitutu is challenging the legality of the witness summons by the IGG.
“It will be therefore a violation of the subjudice rule if the inquiry and captioned investigations proceed while the same is under legal challenge” reads part of the letter whose receipt was acknowledged with a stamp from the IGS office on 11th January 2024.
Kitutu through her lawyers led by Jude Byamukama filed an application at the court challenging the decision to summon her.
Kitutu contends that she was charged before the Anti-Corruption Court under case number HCT-00-AC-0005- 2023 for the offence of loss of public property amounting to 14,500 iron sheets under the Karamoja Community Empowerment Programme.
The said iron sheets were procured with the supplementary funds that were released to the Office of the Prime Minister to support peace-building activities in the Karamoja Sub-Region in the Financial Year 2021/2022.
She says that the criminal case is fixed for hearing on the 12th, 13th and 15th of February 2024 before Lady Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga.
She received a witness summons requiring her to appear before the Inspectorate of Government on January 11th, 2024 to answer questions and produce any documents or information in respect of the management of supplementary funds that were released to the Office of the Prime Minister to support peacebuilding activities in the Karamoja Sub-Region during the financial year 2021/2022.
According to Kitutu, the Inspectorate of Government prematurely issued a search warrant to enter her premises at Buziga, Bbunga, Kampala around Mwedde-Crescent Drive/Kyabagu Richard close and carry out inspection and collect any oral, electronic (including the Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) footage at my residence) and documentary evidence.
Kitutu contends that the said inquiry is a disguised attempt to re-open the already concluded investigations on the management of the said supplementary funds.
She is of the view that the latest decision by the IGG could be an attempt to come up with alternative possible offences in the same matter by a different government agency.
She argues that her lawyers of JByamukama and Company Advocates advised her that the Inspectorate of Government is barred from conducting investigations touching matters that are already before a court of law in the pending case.
“That my lawyers have also advised me that it is unconstitutional to split and sequentially initiate charges of offences founded on the same facts within different cases against an accused person even before they have been convicted violate Articles 28 (1) and 28 (3) (c) of the constitution”, says Kitutu.
Kitutu wants the court to permanently prohibit the Inspectorate of Government from indulging in what she describes as endless investigations over matters touching the supplementary funds that were released to the Office of the Prime Minister to support peace-building activities in the Karamoja Sub-Region in Financial Year 2021/2022 and which are similar in character with the investigations that led to the current charges against her pending in court.
“That my lawyers have advised me which advice I verily believe to be true that this court has the power to prevent the Inspectorate of Government and any other agent of the government from continuously investigating me over similar circumstances that form a continuous act and the same transaction”, adds Kitutu.
The Minister now seeks a declaration that the said acts of the Inspectorate of Government in summoning her to appear before the Inspectorate as a witness and suspect and also initiating investigations similar to the charges she is already facing violates her due process rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
Kitutu further sought a permanent injunction to be issued restraining the Inspectorate of Government, its employees, and agents from conducting any investigations against her concerning the alleged mismanagement of supplementary funds released to the office of the prime minister to support peace-building activities in the Karamoja sub-region.
She has also asked the Court to grant her temporary relief by issuing an interim and a temporary injunction halting the actions of summoning her.
The application is fixed for hearing on January 22nd 2024 before Lady Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga. On November 28th 2023, Kitutu lost a bid to block her trial over the iron sheet scandal. She had asked the Anti-Corruption Court to stop her trial.
She had indicated that she had been tortured by security agents and the detectives of the Uganda Police Force during the investigation into the theft of 9000 iron sheets intended for Karamoja Community Empowerment. Dr. Kitutu was in August 2023 charged jointly with her brother, Naboya Kitutu Michael, and a Senior Assistant Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister, Abaho Joshua with the offense of loss of public property and conspiracy to defraud.
They denied the charges stemming from accusations that they diverted iron sheets meant for Karamoja. Two other ministers, Amos Lugolobi and Agnes Nandutu were arrested and remanded to Luzira prison over the iron sheet scandal. Kitutu and the co-accused are expected in court this month.
Kitutu has since sought for Pardon from the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in her December 20th 2023 letter copy of which Uganda Radio Network -URN has seen in which she also gave a detailed accountability of the missing iron sheets and how it was spent in the Karamoja region among others. In the same letter, she pledged to be patriots and always support the NRM Agenda of fighting corruption.