Dropping Iron Sheets Case Shocks, Divides Karamoja Leaders

The decision by the Director of Public Prosecution to close 17 files on the theft and diversion of iron sheets has sparked mixed reactions from the local leaders in the Karamoja sub region.

DPP Jane Frances Abodo, herself a daughter of Karamoja, last week closed 17 case files of some ministers and other top officials implicated in the iron sheets scandal due to lack of sufficient evidence.

Those whose files were dropped include Vice president Jessica Alupo, Prime Minister Robina Nabanja, Parliament Speaker Anita Among and the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija.

This has attracted mixed reactions among the local leaders in the region and majority welcomed the decision but expressed worries if there will be justice for the people of Karamoja.

Michael Lotee, the NRM Chairperson for Moroto district noted that the DPP has a right to dismiss the case which has no concrete evidence to implicate the suspects.

Lotee observed that there may be loopholes during the investigation period and they welcome whatever findings are reported.

He warned that they are not concerned about the case anymore but the government should make sure that the pledge of iron sheets and the goats are delivered to the rightful beneficiaries.

Lotee said they are patiently waiting for their pledges which the president made and nobody should sabotage the program because of the political interest or self gains.

Jackson Angella, an elder in Rupa sub county Moroto district said that DPP should not be blamed for their move but instead the whole system that was investigating the case.

Angella said that there would be no way for DPP to take action against the officers without enough evidence to pin the suspects.

He said there are already clear signs that the people of Karamoja have been denied justice due to many exchanges in the process of managing the case. He added that it was unfortunate to give police that can be easily bribed to investigate such sensitive cases and their findings have already exposed what transpired during their work.

Angella appealed to DPP two clear the remaining officers implicated in the iron sheets scandals because it will be unfair to punish them yet they were following orders from the above.

Mark Aol Musoka, the former LC5 chair of Moroto district observed that if the investigations are done and the officers proved to be innocent, then there would be no need of pulling ropes.

Musoka said the officers should only be tasked to return the stolen items so that they are taken to benefit the intended beneficiaries.

Musoka said that there is no need to worry because the government has got its own ways of punishing the officers involved in the corruption scandal even outside the court.

He added that it will be unfair if the officers are released without returning the items which were diverted and they go unpunished.

Despite support from some leaders, there are those who expressed dismay and frustration saying that the decision has painted a bad picture of the DPP system and denied the people of Karamoja justice.

Meri Jino, the LC5 Chairperson for Kaabong district said that they never expected the DPP to drop the charges because it had clear evidence to prosecute the suspects.

Jino noted that the program was intended to support the vulnerable groups in the sub region but it is a shame to see the aid not reaching the beneficiaries in spite of passing the supplementary budget.

He said the decision taken by the DPP to drop the charges has clearly shown that the government does not have a capacity to fight corruption in the country.

Ismail Mohammed, the mayor for Moroto municipality noted that they do not have any business with the Karamoja ministry, instead they only demand for justice to be delivered.

Mohammed said they believe that president Museveni should be in a better position to sort out the mess politically as per his pledge.

Mohammed revealed that to date, the reformed warriors are still waiting for their pledge to be delivered and the government should consider speeding up with the program.

He added that they are disappointed to see the officers who were implicated in the iron sheet scandal still in their offices instead of stepping aside to allow proper investigations.

Early this week, the Karamoja Parliamentary group expressed dissatisfaction with the DPP’s decision to drop the files of high profile persons implicated in the iron sheet scandal. The legislators said that the people in the region have lost confidence in the ministry for Karamoja affairs and they are not willing to work with its two ministers.

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