Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Inspectorate of Government has requested additional time to respond to an amended application from Karamoja Affairs Minister Mary Goretti Kitutu, seeking the dismissal of new charges accusing her of causing a financial loss of 1.5 billion Shillings.
The case, in which Kitutu lists the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) and the Attorney General as respondents, was scheduled for a hearing today before Anti-Corruption Court Judge Jane Okuo Kajuga. Kitutu’s legal team, led by Jude Byamukama, informed the court that developments had occurred since filing the original application, prompting them to amend the notice of motion.
Initially, they sought an interim order to halt the enforcement of witness summons requiring Kitutu to appear before the IGG last week. However, Byamukama explained that this request became irrelevant after Kitutu was charged with causing financial loss. The allegation is that between February and June 2022, while performing her duties as Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Kitutu failed to conduct various peace-building activities in the Karamoja sub-region, knowing or having reason to believe that her omission would cause financial loss.
Indeed, it is claimed that she caused a loss of 1,555,365,000 Shillings to the Government of Uganda. In this case, Kitutu faces charges alongside Geoffrey Sseremba, the Secretary/Accounting Officer, Deogratius Masagazi – Under Secretary/Head of Department, Pacification and Development Programme, and Tracy Atuhirwe, the Accountant, all from the Office of the Prime Minister.
Byamukama argued that these developments significantly impact the application before the court, and the investigations by the IGG are not introducing anything new. “It is the same subject matter as the one in this court. This clearly is an abuse of fair trial. However, I have spoken to the Attorney General Representative this morning, and they need more time to file their response to the amendments,” said Byamukama.
However, the IGG’s representatives, Vincent Kasujja, and Jackie Amusugut from the Attorney General’s chambers stated that they had been served with an amended notice of motion today and received communication from the IGG detailing facts about the new matter. They sought a one-week adjournment to respond to the amended notice of motion, which was granted, and the case was postponed to February 1st, 2024.
Kitutu seeks a declaration that the IGG’s acts in summoning and subsequently initiating parallel criminal charges against her contravene her right to a fair hearing. She further wants the court to declare that initiating additional criminal proceedings on allegations arising from the mismanagement of supplementary funds violated her due process.
Kitutu contends that in April 2023, she was charged with the loss of public property related to 14,500 iron sheets purchased out of supplementary funds released to the Office of the Prime Minister for peace-building activities. Investigations by various institutions resulted in the first charges against her. She argues that the IGG’s actions to start more investigations into the same transaction contravene her right to a fair hearing.
Despite public knowledge, the IGG continued with parallel, illegal investigations by signing off a search warrant for Kitutu’s premises at Buziga in Kampala, according to Kitutu. Kitutu adds that the IGG summoned her on January 11th, 2024, asking her to bring documents, but she was represented by her lawyers who deemed it futile because the investigating officers were indisposed. S
They later learned through the media that she was charged with causing financial loss, and criminal summons were issued requiring her to appear in court on February 29th, 2024, though she hasn’t received the summons.
“I have been advised by my lawyers, whose advice I believe to be true, that this court has the power to stop the Inspectorate of Government from any further abuse of its power and the constitution in trying to prosecute me for questions that are already a subject of judicial consideration,” says Kitutu.
She seeks the court’s intervention to prevent the abuse and violations of her constitutional rights. On her part, the IGG, Betty Kamya, argues that the charges are different and that Kitutu’s application is not made in good faith but to defeat the course of justice. Kamya suggests the application should be rejected with costs.
Kamya emphasizes that the vulnerable people of Karamoja need redress from public injury caused by Kitutu’s actions and calls for the enforcement of a public duty by state organs. In 2023, the Parliament Committee conducted investigations into the supplementary funds, referring the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for action.