Uganda charges second minister for corruption

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Ugandan prosecutors have charged a second government minister with corruption-related offences in a scandal stemming from the diversion of roofing sheets that should have been distributed to vulnerable people.

Amos Lugoloobi, the state minister for finance in charge of planning, pleaded not guilty to the charges when he was arraigned in a courtroom in the capital, Kampala.

Another minister, Mary Kitutu, was similarly charged last week.

Report say at least 22 top officials are implicated in the scandal, including the vice president, the parliamentary speaker, the prime minister, and government ministers.

More officials are likely to be charged later this week.

President Yoweri Museveni, whose government is often accused of lacking the political will to stem corruption, has ordered detectives to investigate the case.

He said that those deemed responsible for diverting thousands of metallic roofing sheets that had been appropriated for people in the remote region of Karamoja should be indicted.

The scandal came to light in February after security officials in eastern Uganda had intercepted government-branded iron sheets being sold by relatives of Kitutu, the minister in charge of Karamoja.

Report says subsequent reporting, thousands of iron sheets have been systematically shared among a range of government officials since June.

Official corruption is rampant in this East African country, but officials caught in major scandals rarely face criminal charges.

“The charges are highly welcome as we have been having a culture of impunity because the suspects have godfathers in the system,” executive director of the pressure group Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, Marlon Agaba said.

 “We have known government officials to steal billions of shillings, not stealing iron sheets from the poor,” he added.

 

AFRICANEWS/Christopher Ojilere