Minister Kitutu’s Personal Assistant, Abaho Remanded Over Karamoja Iron Sheets

The Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala has remanded Joshua Abaho the Senior Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Karamoja Affairs to Luzira Prison on charges of corruption and conspiring with his boss Minister Mary Gorreti Kitutu to defraud the government of its iron sheets.

Abaho on Thursday morning handed himself to court following criminal summons that were previously issued against him by Chief Magistrate Joan Aciro. He was required to appear and be charged over his role in the iron sheets scandal.

He was then charged with the loss of Public Property and Corruption on the same file where Kitutu and her brother Michael Naboya Kitutu were previously charged and granted bail. Kitutu and Naboya had also returned to court for the prosecution to inform the court of the status of the investigations.

But after informing the court that investigations into this matter where Kitutu is accused of diverting 9,000 iron sheets and giving her brother 100 pieces of these iron sheets are still ongoing, Abaho was immediately charged with two offenses.

The court heard that during the month of January 2023 at the office of the Prime Minister’s Stores in Namanve in Mukono District being in public office in the position of Senior Assistant Secretary Ministry of Karamoja Affairs, Abaho diverted 5,500 iron sheets of gauge 28 belonging to the state.

The prosecution contends that the said iron sheets were meant for the Karamoja Community Empowerment Programme but he diverted them for purposes unrelated to those for which they were intended and for the benefit of third parties.

According to the prosecution,  Abaho received the iron sheets by virtue of his position for purposes of custody and distribution under the said program.

He was charged with conspiring with Kitutu between the month of June 2022 and January 2023 by deceit to defraud beneficiaries of the Karamoja Community Empowerment Program of 9,000 pre-painted iron sheets of Guage 28.

But Abaho denied the charges against him and through his lawyers led by Paul  Kutesa asked to be released on bail on grounds that he is innocent and the charges against him are bailable by the Anti-Corruption Court.

He also said that Abaho has a land title in his name which he is ready to deposit with court.

He later presented five sureties, Kenneth Mugumya Tebijuka the Assistant Commissioner in the Ministry of Education who is also his elder brother, Johnson Musinguzi his cousin and Assistant Commissioner Ministry of Works and Transport and Geoffrey Ndiwalana the Engineer for Makindye Sabagabo Municipal Council.

Other sureties are Simon Peter Kasyate his nephew who is also the Deputy Director of Public and Corporate Affairs at Kampala Capital City Authority and Simon Tumwesigye Karokora his  Cousin, brother who also doubles as the Customs Supervisor at Uganda Revenue Authority.

Abaho’s lawyers later asked Court to find the sureties who have presented their bank statements, recommendation, and introduction letters from their respective Local Council  One Chairpersons of their places of residence and their National Identification Cards and employment cards as substantial.

But prosecution led by David Bisamunyu and Jonathan Muwaganya said they were served with the documents of Abaho on Wednesday.

Bisamunyu said that notwithstanding, he had instructions to object to the bail application on grounds that the evaluation report of the land title he presented showed the land is registered as a Private Mile in his name and it shows two plots of land yet they have brought one land title.

Bisamunyu said the law provides that sureties should be capable of making sure that the accused attends the trial and one of the sureties is a nephew and therefore he is like a son who can’t compel  Abaho to come to Court.

He added that the sureties do not have the capacity to meet the terms of the bond as per the regulations governing the Anti-Corruption Court and that it is on record that the sureties of Abaho’s co-accused were bonded at 200 million shillings.

Bisamunyu said a quick look at the sureties Abaho has presented indicates that they are not people who are capable of meeting the terms.

Court heard that the sureties do not demonstrate that capacity of meeting the terms looking at the bank statements they have presented because their balances do not demonstrate that they have the financial capacity to pay the monies involved in this case.

Bisamunyu added that the bank statements of Tumwesigye are even more terrible because he is receiving SACCO money on his personal account which means that people’s savings are at risk.

He, therefore, prayed that the court denies him bail and orders him to deposit his two land titles with the court should the court be inclined to release him on bail and also other stringent terms like ordering him to pay a cash bail should be imposed against Abaho.

Chief Magistrate Aciro adjourned the case to May 2nd and sent Abaho to Luzira Prison until then when she will be deciding on his bail application.

Kitutu and her brother Naboya who were present in Court have had their bail bonds extended until then.

Abaho is the fourth suspect to be charged in the Iron Sheets Scandal. The others who were charged previously include. Minister Kitutu, her brother Naboya, Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Amos Lugoloobi, and State Minister for Karamoja Affairs Agnes Nandutu who is still on remand.

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