Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Directorate of Public Prosecutions has dropped corruption related charges against the former Permanent Secretary Christine Guwatudde Kintu, and other senior officials in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Guwatudde was arrested by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit in April last year and charged jointly with the Head of the Procurement Unit Fred Lutimba Kyeyune, Under Secretary Joel Wanjala and Martin Owor, the Commissioner in charge of Relief and Disaster Preparedness and Head of the COVID-19 relief management.
The group was arraigned before the Kololo based Anti-Corruption Court and charged for allegedly inflating prices of food meant for the vulnerable poor under the COVID-19 relief programme. They were also charged with abuse of office, fraudulent false accounting and corruption.
It was alleged that between March 31 and April 9, 2020, the four persons prepared and issued an award letter to various companies to supply maize, beans, milk, and sugar amounting to 32.340 billion Shillings in total disregard of the procurement procedure.
According to the charge sheet, Guwatudde, Kyeyune and Wanjala fraudulently made or were privy to making a false entry in an award letter for several companies to supply COVID-19 relief food items purporting that the same entry was allocated by the OPM contracts committee whereas not. And that the three persons jointly with Owor colluded to commit a fraudulent practice.
The State also accused Kyeyune of neglecting his duty of advising the contracts committee on procurement procedures, an omission which tantamount to corruption.
However, after one year and four months when the case came up before High Court Judge Margaret Tibulya, State Attorney James Khaukha presented a withdrawal form saying that he had received instructions from the DPP to have the proceedings against the four persons terminated.
He told the court that instructions were contained in an August 19 notice indicating that all the 24 charges against the accused persons shall not continue. In response, Justice Tibulya ruled: “The proceedings in this case are hereby terminated and the accused (persons) are hereby set free.”
The judge also ordered the government to refund the monies that the four persons had deposited as a bail condition and also the state to return all the documents they had deposited in the court.