Karamoja MPs give up on iron sheets, retain hope in probe into goats’ scandal 

Members of Parliament from Karamoja sub-region want the investigations into the mismanagement of the distribution of goats to the region to be handled expeditiously and with attention to detail in for the state to gather enough evidence to pin government officials involved in the scandal.

Addressing Journalists at Parliament on Tuesday, the legislators led by Pian County’s Remegio Achia said they will not protest the decision by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Jane Frances Abodo to close files involving 17 top government officials that were being investigated over their role in the diversion of iron sheets meant for Karamoja.

Last week, the DPP announced that she had not found evidence on the files to pin the 17 top officials in Courts of law after they were sent to her by the Police’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Crime Intelligence (CID). 

The beneficiaries of the DPP’s decision to close the files yet they received iron sheets meant for Karamoja sub-region include; Vice President Jessica Alupo; Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among; Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja; Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija; Government Chief Whip, Denis Humson Obua; State Minister for Defence, Jacob Oboth-Oboth; and, State Minister for primary education, Joyce Moriku Kaducu.

“We decided that we take an administrative action and let them refund the iron sheets, either in cash or by the same quality” said Abodo while addressing journalists on Saturday.

So far only three Ministers; Mary Goret Kitutu (Karamoja Affairs), Agnes Nandutu (State, Karamoja Affairs) and Amos Lugolobi (State, Finance in charge Planning) are facing trial at the Anti-Corruption Court for their involvement in the diversion of the iron sheets meant for Karamoja. 

The DPP revealed that she has also retained three more files where the suspects are set to be arraigned in Court.

Achia said that the Karamoja Parliamentary Caucus was not happy with the outcome of the investigations but they will not take any other action against the would be suspects. 

“The police have done their part, the DPP has done her part! Whereas we are not satisfied with the outcome so far, we still have hope in His Excellency the President for justice. Those that directly carried out this subversive activity ought to pay for this politically as he had promised to the country” said Achia.

Parliament remains tied on the prejudice rule and cannot debate anything about the diverted iron sheets since some of the suspects are already facing trial. This is the reason only the House debated the part of the distribution of goats worth Shs26b which some of the intended beneficiaries never received while those who go say most of the animals died due to poor health.

Parliament’s Director for Communications and Public Affairs, Chris Obore said that so long as there is an active case in Court, the House will not debate the iron sheets scandal in conforming with the principal of separation of powers.

“Article 120 of the Constitution demands that all agencies, Parliament inclusive, accord the Office of Director of Public Prosecution all the required assistance in execution of their duties. If there is a trial ongoing on it would be subjudice (if Parliament debates on the matter)” said Obore.

To the Karamoja legislators, as the investigations into the mismanagement of the distribution of goats continue, there are supposed to be serious reforms in the systems in the Office of the Prime Minister so that similar scandals do not occur in the future. 

Achia said that there is need to do an overhaul of the technical staff in the Office of the Prime Minister and also redeployed the two indicted Ministers from the Karamoja docket to other portfolios.

“The absence of systems in the Office of the Prime Minister has over the years created a fertile ground for impunity. We call for urgent reforms in the OPM. The Prime Minister told us that she has no powers to supervise the likes of Gorret Kitutu because they have PhDs.” He said.

Napak District Woman representative, Faith Nakut said that the people of Karamoja will not forget that the iron sheets were stolen even though the DPP dropped charges against political leaders who confessed to have seen the items and went on to return them physically or pay back in cash.

“We respect the Office of the DPP and we will not do anything about it even when you (press) and I know it that there were people who found iron sheets in their houses. I leave it to the court of public opinion to decide. Therefore, if this is how we want to fight corruption, so be it.” Said Nakut.

She however, warned that the closing of the particular files should not be used as precedent to always let top government officials off the hook whenever they are accused of involving in a similar scandal. 

Bokora County MP John Bosco Ngoya rooted for the reinstating of the Karamoja Development Agency to be in charge of the government interventions in the region instead of having politicians on the help of the portfolio siphon what is meant for the vulnerable community. 

“This is the discussion that should be going on in the event that OPM fails to make reforms in its systems and this can be as a way to show our displeasure that something has happened and we are actually not happy with it” he said.

Responding to questions on whether there is need to disband affirmative action Ministries because they are dodged with a lot of scandals, Chekwi County MP Moses Aleper said that the problem is not the institutions but the mindset of the duty bearers who decide to steal from the poor. 

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