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Equal Opportunities Commission boss remanded

Equal Opportunities Commission chairperson Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi being escorted at the Anti Corruption Court. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | There was drama at the Anti-Corruption Court on Thursday as the Equal Opportunities Commission chairperson, Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi appeared to answer corruption related charges.

Muwebwa appeared before the Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Pamela Lamunu Ochaya who read for her a string of charges including corruption, abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud the government of more than Shillings 35 million.

Muwebwa pleaded not guilty to the charges and applied for bail which was denied. As Muwebwa’s lawyer Brian Kabafunzaki was presenting his submission for bail, a whistle-blower who only identified himself as Hakim shot up in court and raised objection.

He told the court that the accused had previously presented the court with fake documents from Medik Hospital claiming that she had been admitted there because of hypertension. Hakim told the court that he had recorded a video with a nurse at Medik Hospital indicating that Muwebwa has never been admitted there.

Consequently, Hakim demanded that Muwebwa explains why she furnished the court with fake documents. At this point, four court orderly officers from the counter-terrorism unit whisked Hakim to the cells. As a result, Muwebwa’s lawyer continued with his bail application and presented three sureties including her friends and workmates.

However, the State Attorneys led by Harriet Ongom objected to the bail application. Ongom said Muwebwa has been elusive and didn’t want to come to court until the magistrate threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against her. She also asked the magistrate not to ignore Hakim’s allegations since he visited the hospital and was told Muwebwa has never been there.

Ongom also said the sureties presented by the applicant didn’t have the necessary documents like their official identification cards which she said is a calculated move to abscond from the trial. Ongom argued further that since investigations are complete, Muwebwa and her co-accused should be committed to High Court for trial such that she can also go and apply for bail from there.

In her ruling, Lamunu concurred with the state that the sureties didn’t present identification documentation. She advised Muwebwa lawyer’s to look for the documents and make a fresh bail application. She remanded Muwebwa to Kigo government prison until November 4, 2020.

Muwebwa is jointly charged together with her assistants including Agnes Enid Kamahoro, Moses Mugabe, Mpitsi Mujuni, Ronnie Kwesiga, Manasseh Kwihangana, Harriet Byangire, Evans Jjemba, Sarah Nassanga and Sunday Nicholas Olwor.

The prosecution alleges that Muwebwa conspired with her assistants to steal money which they accessed by the virtue of the different offices they hold. The money was obtained between January and December 2018 as per diem for editing and drafting Equal Opportunities Commission HIV/AIDS workplace policy, yet none of the officials were entitled to it.

The prosecution alleges that the per diem was acquired by Kamahoro, the senior personal secretary Equal Opportunities Commission and was later irregularly approved by Mujuni, the secretary to the Commission which caused a financial loss to the government. Part of the stolen funds had been earmarked for sensitization on equity and rights issues in lower local governments in Karamoja region.



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