Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Hearing of the case in which State Minister for Karamoja Affairs Agnes Nandutu is implicated in the iron sheets scandal has not taken place.
The hearing of the case in which Nandutu is charged with dealing with suspect property was expected Thursday before Anti-Corruption Court Judge Jane Okuo Kajuga but it couldn’t go on because the lead lawyer for Nandutu, Caleb Alaka was unwell.
As such the matter has been adjourned to June 16th 2023 for the trial to commence.
The Prosecution team led by Chief State Attorney David Bisamunyu and Jonathan Muwaganya from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said it was the second time the State has come to Court with its Witnesses ready to prosecute the accused Minister but the Defense is still not ready to proceed.
The last time lead Defence Lawyer Caleb Alaka came with an application seeking to block Nandutu’s trial before the Anticorruption Court. But he didn’t succeed and today his colleague Evans Ochieng has told journalists that they cannot proceed because one of them is unwell.The adjournment had been done in the chambers where the media wasn’t allowed access.
But all Nandutu’s four lawyers including Caleb Alaka, Evans Ochieng, Charles Wamukota and John Nalera have been present in court and they did not disclose who among them was unwell. Although Uganda Radio Network has learnt that it’s Alaka who is suffering from cough and flue.
The prosecution alleges that Nandutu dealt with 2,000 pre-painted iron sheets gauge 28, well knowing that they were obtained as a result of the loss of public property, an offence under Section 10 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2000.
Earlier before this, Justice Kajuga dismissed another application by lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi that also sought to halt Nandutu’s trial before the Anti-corruption Court on grounds that Mabirizi had no locus to bring the application on behalf of the accused person.
The Judge observed that Mabirizi is not a party to the criminal trial of the accused Minister and he was not even permitted by Nandutu to file the application but that he was fronting his own interests.
“I note that the applicant is not a party to the proceedings before me. The accused in that Case has not authorized the applicant to bring the human rights violation (matter) on her behalf. In fact the applicant was emphatic that he was representing his own interests and not those of the accused, whom he had also sued’, said Kajuga.
She added that in the circumstances, she saw no cause to stop the process of the criminal justice system as regards her trial.
“The balance of convenience is in favor of the DPP who represents victims of crime, who are stakeholders in the criminal justice system, the likelihood that the criminal case will be conclusively dealt with before July 4th 2023 is very low”, added Kajuga.
Mabirizi wanted the trial halted pending his ruling where he is challenging the trial of politicians in this iron sheets scandal. He argues that the Minister’s fundamental rights to equal protection of the law were infringed upon by prosecuting her for mistakes of public servants yet accountability in Public Service is in the hands of the Permanent Secretary and his staff.