BY OUR REPORTER
High Court Anti-corruption Division Judge, Jane Kajuga has declined to stay criminal proceedings against the State Minister for Karamoja Affairs Agnes Nandutu who is battling charges of dealing with with suspect property (Iron sheets) that were meant for vulnerable people in Karamoja sub-region.
Nandutu had asked the court to temporarily halt and refer her case to the Constitutional Court for interpretation of Section 21(a) of the Anti-corruption Act 2009 ( as Amended) which provides for the charge of dealing with suspect property that she claims is too broad, unclear and vague.
However, Justice Kajuga has ruled that she is not satisfied that the wording used in that section to describe the charge of dealing with suspect property is vague and unclear to cause a reference or a miscarriage of justice to Nandutu.
Justice Kajuga has instead advised Nandutu that in order not to clog the judicial system with a multiplicity of charges, concentration should be put on the earlier petition she filed with the Constitutional Court which is also in a better position to hear her complaints in-depth.
Nandutu seeks criminal proceedings against her in relation to the theft of 2000 pieces of Iron sheets that were meant to empower vulnerable Karamoja communities be halted until the Constitutional Court can rule on the validity of the charge which she claims to be vague, unclear, and too broad to enable her defend her herself.
The journalis-turned politician through her lawyer, Caleb Alaka, states that her charge cannot stand because the framers of that particular section of the Anti-corruption Act purposed at confiscating and recovering stolen property of a convicted person which could have been concealed or hidden by a third party.
Alaka urges that since nobody has ever been convicted of stealing the 2000 contentious Iron sheets, there is no way prosecution can tell that the iron sheets found at Nandutu’s home are suspect property.
However, Justice Kajuga instead notes that the charge is well stated that between June and July 2022 at OPM stores in Namanve and her home in Mukono district, the minister received and harboured 2000 pieces of pre-painted Iron sheets marked “Office of the Prime Minister” that were meant for Karamoja Empowerment Programme while having reason to believe that the same was stolen property.
While Nandutu’s lawyers stressed that they will pursue the constitutional petition as advised, Justice Kajuga has warned that unless Nandutu obtains from the Constitutional Court an interim Injunction staying the proceedings in her court, she will start hearing evidence from prosecution witnesses on Thursday next week.
Nandutu, the Bududa district Woman MP is among the three ministers sofar charged before court in regard to the stolen Karamoja Iron sheets.
The other ministers are; her senior, Mary Gorreth Kitutu, and State minister for Finance Amos Lugoloobi.