Minister Lugoloobi stole Karamoja iron sheets – state witnesses tell court

27 Oct 2023


Prosecution alleges that Lugoloobi, while at OPM stores in Namanve in Mukono district and at different places in Matugga, Wakiso district, and Ntejeru North Constituency in Kayunga district dealt with government property – that is 700 pre-painted iron sheets marked with ‘Office of the Prime Minister’.

According to the prosecution, the said iron sheets which were reportedly acquired as a result of loss of property, were obtained in two phases – with one involving 400 iron sheets between July 14, 2022, and February 2023, and another batch of 300 iron sheets obtained between February 1, 2023 and March 16, 2023.

The first witness Sseremba told the court that Kayunga district ministers, MPs, and churches were not among those listed as beneficiaries of the iron sheets program. Instead, it was the nine districts of Karamoja sub-region meant to benefit through peacebuilding, economic empowerment, and the disarmament processes.

He said that MPs from Karamoja region had to work with the local leaders to support the implementation of the program through supervision and see to it that all the reformed warriors and vulnerable individuals who had been widowed due to cattle rustling benefit.

Minister Lugoloobi is also MP for Ntenjeru North in Kayunga district and the prosecution wants to prove that he was not among the intended beneficiaries. He said there were a number of stakeholders, not only OPM but also ministries of Defense, Water, Internal Affairs, parliament, and local government offices. He told the judge that there were prior consultations from all those stakeholders to address the insecurity and cattle wrestling.

“Each ministry was to implement according to its mandate but specifically, OPM was to support the livelihoods, sensitization in the economic empowerment, and discourage cattle wrestlers from the practice,” said Sseremba.

He added that a budget was successfully drafted and submitted to parliament for approval. Court heard that all the nine districts in the Karamoja subregion such as Abimu, Amudata, Kotido, Moroto, Napak, Kabongo, and Nakapiripirit were to benefit as long as those reformed warriors (Karacunas) were identified.

Just like Sseremba, Abaho who had testified as witness number two, said the iron sheets were basically procured for Karamoja in order to resettle the Karacunas who were involved in cattle wrestling, women groups, churches, and schools.

He said that the women groups were registered in groups and given sowing machines and were to use those iron sheets to build for themselves shelters. Court further heard that Abaho participated in the verification of the beneficiaries and the launch of the program which was presided over by President Yoweri Museveni.

He said when the president confirmed his presence for the launch, Kitutu called him to her office where he found the under secretary Deogratius Masagazi, who instructed him to request for the iron sheets that would be used at the launch, prepare the logistics to be used by the minister and her team, prepare a speech as well as facilitating the transportation of goats.

“I wrote to the accounting officer through the head of the department requesting him to cause the release of 10,000 iron sheets and their transportation to Moroto for the launch. It was approved and sent to stores for release and transportation,” said Abaho.

The trial is still ongoing with prosecution led by assistant director of public prosecutions Josephine Namatovu adducing more evidence. Lugoloobi is being represented by lawyers John Isabirye and Tony Tumukunde.

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