By ROBERT KAMUKAMA
KAMPALA, Uganda|SHIFTMEDIA| Times are getting tough for the corrupt, who ‘stole’ with impunity the Covid-19 relief items.
Four top officials attached to the Office of the Prime Minister have been charged by the Anti- Corruption Court.
Ms Christine Guwatudde Kintu the Permanent Secretary, Accountant Mr Joel Wanjala, Assistant Commissioner for Procurement Mr Fred Lutimba and Commissioner for Disaster Management Mr Martin Owor appeared before Justice Margaret Tibulya who slapped them with 23 charges. The four denied all the charges.
Justice Tibulya set March next year as the month to start hearing of their case.
Guwatudde, Owor, Wanjala and Lutimba are accused of being part of the Covid-19 food scam.
They also face twelve counts related to abuse of office and eleven others on false accounting.
Court has heard that investigations in the matter are complete with partial disclosures being made to the defense lawyers.
“This case is adjourned to March 19, 2021, and March 26, 2021 with orders of making full disclosures and consultations,” Justice Tibulya said.
Prosecution led by Mr Nicolas Kawoya alleges that the accused persons did acts prejudicial to their employer when they prepared and issued false entries between March 31 and April 8, 2020 in award letters to several companies to supply Covid-19 relief items such as maize and milk worth more than Shs32 billion in total disregard of the procurement procedures.
Prosecution further states that the group contracted several companies that included; Aponye Uganda Limited which was given Shs19 billion to supply several kilograms of maize each at Shs3, 000, Mandela Millers Limited which was given Shs9 billion and Afro Kai Limited which was paid Shs2 billion.
The other companies include Mehta Group C/o SCOUL which was given Shs900 million, Operation Wealth Creation which was paid Shs450 million, Pearl Dairy Farmers Limited with a bill of Shs525 million, Nmacks Investments Limited Shs225 million and Global Center Limited Shs240 million.
It is also alleged that the accused persons used their offices to defraud government after making false entries of the award letters to the companies to supply relief items purporting that the money had been allocated by the OPM contracts committee which was false.
But the scores of other accountability especially the Covid-19 relief items from individuals and companies and the billions of funds donated by the public and individuals are yet to be accounted for.
The Covid-19 National Task Force and the Ministry of Health are yet to make public how the funds were utilised.
Government has also bee put under pressure for not accounting for the 10 trillion in donations and grants for Covid-19 some in loans between March and September 2020.
Civil Society organisations led by Transparency International Uganda, Anti- Corruption Coalition Uganda and Action-Aid Uganda are demanding for these accountabilities.