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OPM officials face 24 fresh charges over relief food scam

OPM Officials appearing before Buganda Road Magistrates Court on Wednesday. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Four senior officials from the Office of the Prime Minister have been slapped with 24 fresh charges relating to flouting procurement process while purchasing COVID-19 relief items.

The officials who include the Permanent Secretary Christine Guwatudde Kintu, Accountant Joel Wanjala, Assistant Commissioner for Procurement Fred Lutimba and Commissioner for Disaster Management Martin Owor will now face 12 counts related to abuse of office and 12 others on false accounting.

According to the new charge sheet presented by the Resident State Attorney Janat Kitimbo, the accused persons did acts prejudicial to their employer when they prepared and issued false entries in award letters to several companies to supply COVID-19 relief items such as maize and milk worth more than 32 billion shillings in total disregard of the procurement procedures.

The companies that were contracted between March 31 and April 8, 2020, include Aponye Uganda Limited which was given 19 billion Shillings to supply several kilograms of maize each at 3,000 Shillings, Mandela Millers Limited which was given 9 billion Shillings and Afro Kai Limited which was paid 2 billion Shillings.

The other companies include Mehta Group C/o SCOUL , given 900 million Shillings, Operation Wealth Creation which was paid 450 million Million Shillings, Pearl Dairy Farmers Limited with a bill of 525 million shillings, Nmacks Investments Limited -225 million Shillings and Global Centre Limited which was given 240 million Shillings.

It is also alleged that the accused persons used their offices to defraud government after making false entries of the said award letters to the companies to supply relief items purporting that the money had been allocated by the OPM contracts committee which was false. The trial will now be transferred to the Anti-Corruption Court which has the jurisdiction to try the new offences that have been slapped against the group.

The four had initially been charged with one count of colluding to commit a fraudulent act during the procurement of COVID-19 relief items by inflating prices of commodities such as beans and maize which caused a loss of 4 billion Shillings to the government.

The initial charge sheet stated that the officials quoted 3,900 shillings per kilogram of maize flour as opposed to the market price ranging between 2500 and 3,000 Shillings. The officials had also quoted a price of 4,500 Shillings for every kilogram of beans as opposed to the market price of 3000-4000 Shillings.

The accused persons were represented by a lawyers McDusman Kabega, Andrew Mumpenjje, Evans Ochieng and Medard Lubega Sseggona. The legal team asked the State to disclose the evidence they intend to use against their clients as they head to the Anti-Corruption Court. The State noted that all this will be done when proceedings at the Anti-Corruption Court commence.

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