Minister Kitutu pleads to Museveni for forgiveness over iron sheets theft

Minister for Karamoja Affairs Mary Gorreti Kitutu while in court

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Karamoja Affairs minister Mary Goretti Kitutu has issued an apology to President Yoweri Museveni and sought forgiveness in connection to the Karamoja iron sheets scandal.

Kitutu, currently facing trial alongside ministers Amos Lugolobi and Agnes Nandutu, has been summoned to appear before Inspector General of Government (IGG) Beti Kamya Turomwe on Thursday, January 11.

Charges against Kitutu, her brother Michael Naboya Kitutu, and Personal Assistant Joshua Abaho involve the alleged diversion of over 10,000 prepainted iron sheets from the designated Karamoja Community Empowerment Program for personal and third-party gains.

In a letter dated December 20, 2023, Kitutu, Nandutu, and Lugolobi expressed gratitude to the president for “keeping us in cabinet despite the extensive negative publicity in the media for five months since February this year. We appreciate the fatherly decision; may God bless you more.”

No more taking photographs, videos from Karamoja iron sheets trial
Lawyers of Minister Kitutu (left) have complained about biased coverage by the press

“Finally, Your Excellency we are your daughters and sons. In a family, children can make mistakes but many times parents have some window of pardon and forgiveness. As I had mentioned earlier together with my colleagues who are facing court, we highly appreciate your leniency for having kept us in cabinet,” says Kitutu. 

Kitutu further conveyed to the president the challenges she and her co-accused faced in securing a meeting with him, expressing the difficulties encountered during the process.

“On behalf of my colleagues whom we are all in agreement wish to give our apology to you as the head of state for whatever mistakes were made in the iron sheet saga,” she said.

“Your Excellency we have learnt a lesson as individuals and we ask for pardon from you,” Kitutu further informed the president how costly it has been for them to appear before the courts.   

“And the most depressing thing that we have faced as ministers is when the technical officers and the accounting officer who were part of the problem have caused more loss of 11,006 iron sheets are paraded as witnesses by the DPP against us.”

Kitutu concluded her letter by requesting the president to instruct the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to dismiss the charges against the accused individuals, advocating for a resolution through political dialogue rather than legal proceedings.

“We sincerely pledge to be patriots and always support the NRM Agenda of fighting corruption,” Kituti says.

More missing iron sheets from the OPM

Minister Kitutu has brought to the president’s attention another concerning development: a new case of missing iron sheets from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

In her communication, Kitutu informed the president that a shortfall of 11,006 iron sheets had been identified, distinct from the 14,500 sheets previously alleged to have been stolen by the ministers. The letter does not indicate if this revelation is linked to the Inspector General of Government (IGG) summoning Kitutu as a witness in the ongoing investigation.

“Your Excellency, I have directed the new permanent secretary to follow up on how a shortfall of 11,006 iron sheets came out of the OPM stores because this is not part of the 14,500 sheets which were alleged to have been stolen by the ministers,” reads part of the letter to the president but not copied to the Prime Minister. 

Meanwhile, Kitutu’s lawyer, Jude Byamukama, has raised objections to the recent summons issued by the Inspector General of Government (IGG). Byamukama contends that these summons appear to be an effort by Kamya and her team to reopen investigations, despite his client being slated for trial.

Also Read: No more taking photographs, videos from Karamoja iron sheets trial

“My view is that this is a shocking abuse of due process rights. All issues surrounding the supplementary budget were thoroughly investigated by CID, State House Anti-Corruption Unit, the DPP, and even parliament. The attempt to resurrect that investigation fully confirms what we have always known: that Hon Kitutu is undergoing a political witch-hunt,” said Byamukama.

Byamukama expressed bewilderment regarding the legal basis for subjecting his client, who is already undergoing trial, to a new investigation. He questioned the legitimacy of requiring her participation in matters that are integral to the pending criminal trial.

“You will recall that she is charged with loss of public property yet all recipients refunded the iron sheets. The minister is not an accounting officer, why would she be expected to hold documents?,” Byamukama asked.