Karamoja Affairs minister Mary Goretti Kitutu has reportedly appealed to President Museveni, seeking his intervention to direct the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to drop charges against her and two other ministers. The charges stem from their alleged involvement in the Karamoja iron sheets scam, a case that could lead to a 10-year jail term or a Shs4.8 million fine, or both, if found guilty.
Official sources from the Office of the President remained uncertain about the minister’s appeal, emphasizing the need for verification. Ms. Kitutu and her colleagues, Ms. Agnes Nandutu and Mr. Amos Lugoloobi, are currently facing corruption trials related to the Karamoja iron sheets scandal. However, according to Ugandan law, they maintain the constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.
According to reliable sources, Minister Kitutu made the unusual request to President Museveni in a letter dated December 20, 2023. The letter suggests a plea for a political resolution of the charges rather than a legal one, a move that could potentially infringe upon the constitutional independence of the DPP.
In the letter, Kitutu expressed remorse, asking for pardon and forgiveness from the President while requesting him to direct the DPP’s office to drop all charges. However, this proposition raises legal concerns, as Uganda’s constitution shields the DPP from external influence in the execution of their duties.
The other two ministers implicated in the iron sheets scam are Ms. Agnes Nandutu and Mr. Amos Lugoloobi. Kitutu acknowledged President Museveni’s support in keeping them in Cabinet despite negative media coverage surrounding the scandal.
Since early 2023, news reports have detailed allegations of Kitutu and others illegally diverting iron sheets intended for peace-building efforts in the Karamoja sub-region. In her letter, Kitutu portrays herself as a victim of media scrutiny and expresses gratitude to the President for standing by them.
The prosecution claims that Kitutu diverted 14,500 iron sheets meant for vulnerable people in Karamoja, causing loss of public property. The minister denies the charges, and the trials are still in the early stages.
In response to Kitutu’s letter, President Museveni’s deputy press secretary, Mr. Farouk Kirunda, remains unaware of the developments, stating that he has not seen the letter and cannot confirm its receipt or the channel used for delivery.
The iron sheets scandal has implicated several high-profile figures, including Vice President Jessica Alupo, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, and Speaker of Parliament Anita Among. While some ministers reportedly escaped prosecution due to lack of evidence, Ms. Kitutu and others now face charges related to the diversion of iron sheets intended for vulnerable populations in Karamoja.
In an earlier letter dated April 3, 2023, President Museveni expressed strong disapproval of those implicated in the scandal, describing their actions as subversive and compromising national security. He emphasized the need for political and legal consequences, promising unspecified political action against those involved in the alleged theft of iron sheets.
Ms. Kitutu’s recent letter to the President also reveals the disappearance of an additional batch of 11,006 iron sheets from the Office of the Prime Minister’s stores.