State Minister for Finance Amos Lugoloobi has been remanded to Luzira Prison after being charged with dealing in suspect property. The charges against him stem from his alleged involvement in the diversion of 700 pieces of iron sheets meant for vulnerable people under the Karamoja Community Empowerment Program. The iron sheets were part of the government’s efforts to aid groups of youths and older persons in the Karamoja sub-region.
According to the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala, Lugoloobi is accused of dealing with government property containing 700 pre-painted iron sheets, which he later used for roofing his personal projects. The iron sheets were obtained in two phases; one containing 400 iron sheets taken between July 14, 2022, and February 2023, and another batch of 300 iron sheets obtained between February 16, 2023, and March 16, 2023. Lugoloobi has denied the charges.
During the hearing, Lugoloobi’s lawyers moved to apply for bail, arguing that the prosecution was not ready for trial and had not indicated how much time they need.
They also presented substantial sureties, including Mariam Naigaga, the Namutumba Woman Member of Parliament, James Kakooza, a Member of the East African Legislative Assembly, Kiboga East MP Dr Kefa Kiwanuka, Paul Mugamba Ssempa-Uganda’s former Ambassador to Brazil, Martin Ssekajja, the Head of Operations at Uganda Security Printing Company, Joseph Muwavala, the Prime Minister of Busoga Kingdom and the Executive Director of National Planning Authority, and Businessman Kalisa Moses Karangwa.
The sureties presented documents, including introduction letters from their respective Local Councils, bank statements, and land titles, to demonstrate their financial ability to pay monies worth the charges against Lugoloobi in case he absconds from the trial.
Lugoloobi’s other lawyer Tonny Tumukunde presented a medical report from the Uganda Heart Institute indicating that Lugoloobi is hypertensive, has type two diabetes, dyslipidemia, and also suffers from coronary heart disease for which he underwent surgery in July 2022.
However, the prosecution opposed the bail application, saying that inquiries in the case are in advanced stages and can be completed within the shortest period of time. They also noted that Lugoloobi is a Minister and Member of Parliament and, therefore, a very influential person capable of interfering with the investigations.
Despite Lugoloobi’s plea for bail, Acting Senior Principal Magistrate Grade One Abert Asiimwe sent him on remand until April 20, 2023, as the applicant had submitted many documents that could not be scrutinized in a short time. Lugoloobi faces a seven-year jail term or a fine not exceeding 160 currency points (3.2 million Shillings) or both, upon conviction.
He is the second Minister to be arraigned before the Anti-Corruption Court over the Karamoja Iron Sheets scandal. The first was Karamoja Affairs Minister Mary Gorreti Kitutu, who was presented in court on April 6, 2023, together with her brother Michael Naboya Kitutu on six charges related to causing loss of property and conspiracy to defraud the government of Uganda. Kitutu and her brother Naboya were granted bail and will return on April 27, 2023.
Last month, the CID stated that they were investigating 22 Ministers, 31 MPs, and 13 Chief Administrative Officers. The Spokesperson of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Jacquelyn Okui has since stated that files of those implicated will be coming in piecemeal as and when