DPP sanctions trial of 4 OPM officials accused in COVID-19 relief food scandal

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The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Jane Frances Abodo has ordered for commencement of the trial of the Four OPM officials accused of inflating prices of food meant for the vulnerable poor under the COVID-19 food relief program.

State Attorney James Khaukha who represented the DPP informed the presiding Anti-corruption Court Grade One Magistrate Sarah Namusobya that investigations in this case are complete and that the State is now ready to present its case against the accused persons on 24 counts that include Abuse of Office, fraudulent false accounting and corruption.

Last month the accused persons who include PS- Guwatudde Christine Kintu, Head Procurement Unit- Lutimba Kyeyune Fred, the Under Secretary- Joel Wanjala and the Commissioner in charge of relief Disaster Preparedness and Head of the covid 19 Relief Management- Martin Owor, entered a plea of not guilty denying any involvement in the alleged crime.

They were then released on bail which they have honored today by reporting back to court.

Magistrate Namusobya has now ordered them to prepare for their trial that will take three consecutive days starting 27th, 28th, and 29th/October/2020.

The Magistrate has also directed Buganda  Road Court where they first appeared during the COVID-19 Nation wide Lockdown, to transfer the accused persons passports to the trial Court in Kololo.

Prosecution alleges that in abuse of the authority of their respective offices, Guwatudde and Kyeyune prepared and issued an award letter to various companies to supply maize, beans, milk, sugar amounting to 32.340.000.000 billion Shillings in total disregard of the procurement procedure.

They allegedly committed the offence between 31st/March and 9th/April/2020 at the Office of the Prime Minister along Sir Apollo Kaggwa road from where Lutimba Kyeyune Fred is further alleged to have neglected to perform his duty of advising the contracts committee on procurement procedures which omission amounted to Corruption.

Guwatudde Christine, Lutimba Kyeyune Fred and the Under Secretary- Joel Wanjala are also alleged to have fraudulently made or were privy to making a false entry in an award letter for several companies to supply COVID-19 relief food items, purporting that the same entry was  allocated by the OPM contracts committee whereas not.

These three are again jointly charged with   Martin Owor for colluding to commit a fraudulent practice. The accused maintain they are innocent until proved guilty.

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