Iron Sheets Scandal: Nandutu’s Trial Flops for the 5th Time

The High Court in Kampala has for the fifth time failed to start the hearing of the case in which State Minister for Karamoja Affairs Agnes Nandutu is implicated in the diversion of iron sheets meant for vulnerable people of Karamoja.

The trial which is expected to start before Lady Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga has failed to kick off five times in two months for different reasons.

When Nandutu was charged with dealing in suspect property, she was remanded to Luzira Prison on April 19th 2023. When investigations were complete she was granted bail on May 4th 2023.

But after securing bail, the case was adjourned to May 25th 2023 for the trial to commence.

On that day, Nandutu through her lawyers Evans Ochieng and Caleb Alaka objected to the trial saying the charges against their client are imprecise, ambiguous, vehemently vague and broad in nature, and as such her right to a fair hearing will be infringed upon.

But the Prosecution led by Jonathan Muwaganya and David Bisamunyu asked Court to dismiss the application on grounds that the charges against Nandutu are clear and therefore there is no question that requires constitutional interpretation.

The application was subsequently dismissed on May 29th 2023 and the trial Judge Kajuga ordered that the hearing of the case should commence immediately.

But Nandutu’s lawyers said they are not ready to proceed and instead, they wanted more time to first study the ruling dismissing their application and see what they could do with it.

The case was now adjourned to June 8th 2023 for trial to commence. On that day, the Court heard that one of the Defense lawyers Alaka was unwell, although he was physically at court.

The case was pushed to June 16th 2023. On that day, the Prosecution informed the Court that some of the witnesses they had been coming to court with ready to testify, had been arrested by the Inspectorate of Government-IGG another prosecutorial body and sent to jail. This was on charges related to embezzlement of multi billion shillings meant for peace initiative program in Karamoja region.

The case was adjourned to today July 4th 2023.

Today, July 4th, the parties have appeared before a Grade One Magistrate Esther Asiimwe who adjourned the case to July 27th 2023 on grounds that it was the date parties had agreed upon, without any reason being given.

But Sources have told Uganda Radio Network that the trial Judge Kajuga was away in prison presiding over a pre-bargain session, and as such was unable to preside over the case.

Nandutu is battling charges of dealing in suspect property in the infamous iron sheet scandal at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Prosecution alleges that during the month of June 2022 at the office of the Prime Minister’s Stores in Namanve and Kkola Cell Bulwanyi Parish Mukono District, Nandutu dealt in government property that is 2,000 pre-painted iron sheets Guage 28 by receiving and holding the said iron sheets.

According to the Prosecution, Nandutu had reason to believe the iron sheets were acquired as a result of loss of public property, an offense under section 10 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2000 as amended.

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