IGG withdraws charges against Kitutu’s co-accused

IGG withdraws charges against Kitutu’s co-accused

The Inspectorate of Government (IG) has withdrawn corruption charges against three suspects who were facing trial alongside Karamoja Affairs Minister Mary Gorreti Kitutu Kimono. Those set free are Geoffrey Sseremba, Deogratius Masagazi, and Tracy Atuhirwe, all officials from the Office of the Prime Minister.

The charges were related to the alleged misappropriation of Shillings 1.5 billion intended for peacekeeping activities.

On Tuesday, Daisy Acio, an Inspectorate Officer from the IG tendered a letter before Acting Senior Principal Grade One Magistrate Abert Asiimwe, discontinuing proceedings against the trio. The charges were amended, and Kitutu remained as the only suspect on the charge sheet. The IG claims that between February and June 2022, while serving as Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Kitutu failed to conduct various peace-building activities in the Karamoja sub-region, resulting in a financial loss of Shillings 1.5 billion to the government.

The IG had accused the accountants of authorizing cash payments of Shillings 2.2 billion to various staff within the Office of the Prime Minister, including Kitutu, which they allegedly obtained for their benefit after Atuhirwe failed to properly manage and account for it.  During the court proceedings, the formerly accused persons responded to the withdrawal by expressing gratitude, with Sseremba appearing emotional, possibly due to relief or frustration over the ordeal of being falsely accused.

Kitutu’s lawyer, Jude Byamukama requested a three-week adjournment, citing her COVID-19 diagnosis and isolation since March 12th, 2024. The case has been adjourned to April 30th, 2024, for Kitutu’s prosecution, while her co-accused have been discharged.  In response to the withdrawal, Kitutu’s lawyer criticized the IGG, alleging misuse of the law to target individuals for personal reasons.

“We are not surprised that 9 months later, the IGG now has a new charge sheet retaining her intended target. We knew from long ago that the IGG would abuse the law and disregard our client’s due process rights in a bid to create some charge against her. It is a sad development that such an important anti-corruption body should be used to fight people’s personal wars,” said Byamukama.

Last month, Anti-Corruption Court Lady Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga okayed Kitutu’s Prosecution in a separate case file from the iron sheets case.

However, the Minister has since appealed against the decision arguing that her role as a Minister involves policy-making rather than direct implementation, and she maintains that she was not directly involved in the technical aspects of the activities in question.

“I am not a technical person and do not therefore get involved in the technical aspects of this role. My role as a Minister is to give policy guidance and not to get directly involved in the implementation of activities. I am sure this is well known to the IGG who herself was a Cabinet Minister less than two years ago,” she said.

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