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Mabirizi's Move to Block Trial of Iron Sheets Suspects Lacks Merit - AG :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Mabirizi's Move to Block Trial of Iron Sheets Suspects Lacks Merit - AG

Mabirizi's application was filed in April 2023, arguing that some suspects, including the Vice President, Speaker, Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, and Members of Local Government Councils, cannot be held criminally liable as they are not holders of offices in the public service.
The Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka

Audio 2

The Attorney General has opposed Lawyer Male Mabirizi's application, which seeks a declaration that the investigations, arrests, detentions, and subsequent prosecutions of some suspects implicated in the diversion of iron sheets meant for the people of Karamoja are illegal. 

The Attorney General, in an affidavit sworn by the Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Josephine Namatovu, contends that Mabirizi is not competent to file the case, which is pending before the Anti-Corruption Court, and wants it dismissed with costs for lack of merit. 

Mabirizi's application was filed in April 2023, arguing that some suspects, including the Vice President, Speaker, Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, and Members of Local Government Councils, cannot be held criminally liable as they are not holders of offices in the public service. 

Instead, it is the Permanent Secretary's office of the Prime Minister and their subordinates who are responsible for accountability. The Attorney General relies on an affidavit by Namatovu to state that the iron sheets are suspected to have been irregularly distributed to untargeted individuals, including Ministers and Members of Parliament, and that investigations are underway to identify those who participated in the scandal.  

Namatovu adds that the implicated individuals played separate roles on different occasions, at divergent locations, and under different circumstances. The decision to separately prosecute them is guided by law and evidence.

"I know that it is not true that the Office of the DPP is conducting piecemeal prosecution of the suspects, who have been implicated in the diversion and mismanagement of the iron sheets and the applicant shall be put to strict proof thereof,” says Namatovu in her affidavit.  

Mabirizi has asked the court to halt the investigations, arrests, detentions, and prosecutions of the suspects in respect of the 14,500 pieces of iron sheets until the determination of the case, arguing that a Vice President, Speaker, Prime Minister, and Ministers cannot be charged for items in their offices. 

Mabirizi asserts that the accused persons' right to a fair hearing is being derogated by the piece-meal investigations, arrests, detentions, and prosecutions. In support of his case, Mabirizi has attached several decisions by the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court, including that of Godfrey Kazinda and another of Dr. Kiiza Besigye, which were against the state.     

He has also submitted evidence to show that the decision to investigate, arrest, detain, and prosecute the said office bearers infringe on his and other Ugandans' fundamental and other human rights to equal protection of the law, liberty, fair heading, the right to participate in affairs of government, fair treatment in administrative decisions, and is not demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society, as required in Chapter Four of the Constitution.   

Mabirizi has asked the court to issue a permanent injunction restraining the Uganda Police Force, Director of Public Prosecutions, or any other state agency from further conducting investigations, arrests, detentions, and prosecutions against the Vice President, Speaker, Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, and Members of Local Government Councils regarding the iron sheets processed under the January 12th, 2023, internal memo by the Minister in Charge of Karamoja Affairs. 

However, the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions, whom Mabirizi listed as the only respondents to his petition, have now opposed the case. But Mabirizi maintains his stand that the DPP's actions are an abuse of the court process.

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Luganda Audio.

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The case is fixed for hearing before the Anti-Corruption Court Judge Lawrence Gidudu on May 22nd, 2023. In December 2021, Parliament passed a supplementary budget worth Shillings 39 billion to support various programs in Karamoja. Of this, Shillings 22 billion was meant to purchase goats while Shillings 5 billion was for the procurement of 100,000 iron sheets, which are alleged to have been diverted.

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