Hearing of Minister Lugoloobi’s Iron Sheets Case Flops

The hearing of the case in which State Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Amos Lugoloobi is accused of dealing with suspect property following the diversion of iron sheets for the people of Karamoja has failed to take off in the High Court.

Last week, Lugoloobi denied the charges, and the trial was fixed to start on Tuesday before the Anti-Corruption Court Lady Justice Margaret Tibulya. However, she did not turn up in court.

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  pre-painted iron sheets marked ‘Office of the Prime Minister.

According to the prosecution, the 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.

On Tuesday, both parties appeared before the Acting Senior Principal Grade One Magistrate Abert Asiimwe.

The prosecution led by State Attorney Gloria Inzikuru asked for an adjournment saying that the Judge is indisposed.

In response, Lugoloobi’s lawyers  John Isabirye and  Tonny Tumukunde informed the court that their client who was present in court did not object to the adjournment.

The parties proposed four dates when the case should be adjourned, but Isabirye said that he had other cases already fixed before the Jinja High Court.

After a lengthy disagreement on one of the dates, Asiimwe adjourned the case to October 16th, 2023, and said that they will agree on the other three dates.

He said the Clerk to the Judge does not have powers to fix dates for the hearing of the case without the consent or consulting the Judge.

Lugoloobi’s bail was further extended.

Lugoloobi was committed by the Chief Magistrates Court last month to face trial after the completion of investigations into the charges against him.

His passport was also returned to him after he asked the court to relax the bail terms against him.

He argued that he was a frequent traveler abroad representing Uganda in several meetings and therefore wanted it to be easier for him to secure visas instead of going to court to ask for permission whenever he wanted to travel.

Deputy Registrar Pamela Lamunu Ocaya found Lugoloobi’s arguments to be valid and allowed his request on the grounds that his lawyers have to inform the court whenever he is to travel.

Lugoloobi faces a seven-year jail term or a fine not exceeding 160 currency points 3.2 million) or both, upon conviction.

He is among the three Ministers facing trial before the Anti-Corruption court over the Karamoja iron sheets scandal.

The others include State Minister for Karamoja Affairs Agness Nandutu and her Senior Minister Mary Gorreti Kitutu who is jointly charged with her brother Michael Naboya Kitutu on six charges related to causing loss of property and conspiracy to defraud the government of Uganda.

Other  17 top politicians including MPs and Ministers, the Speaker of Parliament, and the Vice President who were initially implicated in the scandal have since had their case files closed by the Director of Public Prosecutions Jane Frances Abodo for lack of sufficient evidence.

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