Uganda: 4 officials arrested for overcharging food aid for Covid-19

Four high-ranking officials in the office of the Prime Minister (OPM), accused of fraud in connection with the purchase of emergency food aid to people affected by the blocking of Covid-19, were sent to the anti-Corruption court for trial, reports. 

Officials include Permanent Secretary Kristin Guwatudde, Deputy Secretary and accounting Joel Wanjala, Disaster preparedness Commissioner and Head of the Covid-19 task force Martin Owor, and Fred Lutimba, Assistant Commissioner in charge of procurement.

The prosecution alleges that between 31 March and April, in the office of the Prime Minister in Kampala, Ms. Guwatudde, Mr. Wanjala, Mr. Owor and Mr. Lutimba, who were working in the government, conspired to commit fraudulent practices while purchasing food aid items for Covid-19 in complete disregard of procurement.

The first instance judge in the Buganda road court, Ms. Dorin Olga Karungi, decided to transfer the case materials to the anti-Corruption court in Kololo for trial.

The judge also ruled that the Office of public prosecutions (DPP) should seek to disclose to the accused all the necessary evidence on which they intend to rely during the trial. MS Karungi extended bail until July 23, when they will appear in court in Kololo.

MS Karungi said the accused would face charges of abuse of office, fraudulent false reports and corruption in connection with the alleged purchase of food aid to people affected by the blockage as a result of coronavirus.

Four people previously denied charges of conspiring to commit fraudulent practices in relation to overcharging Covid-19 products under the public procurement and disposal assets Act.

Earlier, reported that South Africa’s special investigative unit (SIU) is investigating corruption in the 500 billion rands aid Fund set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa back in April. This Fund was intended to combat the spread of COVID-19 and compensate for heavy economic losses as a result of blocking