The Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Mary Gorreti Kitutu Kimono, has petitioned the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala, challenging summons issued by the Inspectorate of Government (IGG).
The IGG, Beti Kamya, had summoned the Minister to provide information concerning the management of supplementary funds that were released to the Office of the Prime Minister to support peace-building activities in Karamoja Sub-Region in FY 2021/2022.
However, Kitutu did not turn up as directed by the IGG on December 6th, 2023.
Speaking on her behalf, her lawyer said, “She did not appear because she’s ill. But also, we have legal objections to the legality of summoning her. We have articulated our reasons.”
In the letter, the IGG is informed of the fact that Kitutu is challenging the legality of the witness summoned by the IGG.
“It will therefore be a violation of the subjudice rule if the inquiry and captioned investigations proceed while the same is under legal challenge,” reads part of the letter received at the IGS office on January 11, 2024.
In Kitutu’s application in court, she contends that she was charged before the Anti-Corruption Court under case number HCT-00-AC-0005- 2023 for the offence of loss of public property amounting to 14,500 iron sheets under the Karamoja Community Empowerment Programme.
The said iron sheets were procured with the supplementary funds that were released to the Office of the Prime Minister to support peace-building activities in the Karamoja Sub-Region in the Financial Year 2021/2022.
She says that the criminal case is fixed for hearing on the 12th, 13th and 15th of February 2024 before Lady Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga.
She also received a witness summons requiring her to appear before the Inspectorate of Government on January 11th, 2024, to answer questions and produce any documents or information in respect of the management of supplementary funds that were released to the Office of the Prime Minister to support peacebuilding activities in the Karamoja Sub-Region during the financial year 2021/2022.
According to Kitutu, the Inspectorate of Government prematurely issued a search warrant to enter her premises at Buziga, Bbunga, Kampala, around Mwedde-Crescent Drive/Kyabagu Richard, to carry out an inspection and collect any oral, electronic (including the Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) footage at my residence), and documentary evidence.
Kitutu contends that the said inquiry is a disguised attempt to re-open the already concluded investigations on the management of the said supplementary funds.
She is of the view that the latest decision by the IGG could be an attempt to come up with alternative possible offences in the same matter by a different government agency.
She argues that her lawyers advised her that the Inspectorate of Government is barred from conducting investigations touching matters that are already before a court of law in the pending case.
Kitutu wants the court to permanently prohibit the Inspectorate of Government from indulging in what she describes as endless investigations over matters touching the supplementary funds .
“This court has the power to prevent the Inspectorate of Government and any other agent of the government from continuously investigating me over similar circumstances that form a continuous act and the same transaction,” adds Kitutu.
The Minister now seeks a declaration that the said acts of the Inspectorate of Government in summoning her to appear before the Inspectorate as a witness and suspect and also initiating investigations similar to the charges she is already facing violate her due process rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
Kitutu further sought a permanent injunction to be issued restraining the Inspectorate of Government, its employees, and agents from conducting any investigations against her concerning the matter.
The application is fixed for hearing on January 22, 2024, before Lady Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga. On November 28th, 2023, Kitutu lost a bid to block her trial over the iron sheet scandal. She had asked the Anti-Corruption Court to stop her trial.
Kitutu has since sought pardon from President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in her December 20th, 2023, letter copy, which Uganda Radio Network -URN has seen, in which she also gave a detailed account of the missing iron sheets and how they were spent in the Karamoja region, among others. In the same letter, she pledged to be a patriot and always support the National Resistance Movement agenda of fighting corruption.