Three Ugandan MPs remanded to prison over budget corruption

Three Ugandan MPs remanded to prison over budget corruption
MPs Yusuf Mutembuli of Bunyole East (R), Paul Akamba of Busiki County (L) and District Woman MP for Lwengo, Cissy Namujju Dionizia (C) appear before the Chief Magistrate Joan Aciro at the Anti-Corruption court in Kampala to answer corruption allegations on June 12, 2024.

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Three Ugandan Members of Parliament (MPS) have been remanded to Luzira Prison by the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala on charges of corruption. Their alleged offense involves soliciting money from the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) to boost its budget.

The MPs in question are as follows:

  1. Yusuf Mutembuli, representing Bunyole East Constituency in Butaleja District, residing in Bweyogerere Kirinya, Kira Municipality, Wakiso District.
  2. Paul Akamba, representing Busiki Constituency in Namutumba District, residing in Kyanja Balagade Rise, Nakawa Division.
  3. Cissy Namujju Dionizia, the Lwengo District Woman MP, residing in Nambu Village, Kigo, Wakiso District.

After spending two days in police custody, they appeared in a packed courtroom under the jurisdiction of Chief Magistrate Joan Aciro. There, the three MPs faced charges of corruption and were subsequently remanded to Luzira Prison.

The prosecution alleges that on May 13th, 2024, at Hotel Africana in Kampala, the MPs solicited an undue advantage of 20 per cent of the Uganda Human Rights Commission’s anticipated budget for the Financial Year 2024/2025 from Mariam Wangadya, the Chairperson of the Commission.

They purportedly claimed they could influence the Budget Committee of the Parliament of Uganda to increase the UHRC budget in exchange for this advantage.

However, the accused MPs deny these charges and have applied for bail through their respective legal representatives, led by Asuman Basalirwa.

The prosecution, led by State Attorney Nicholas Kawooya, informed the court that investigations are ongoing and requested an adjournment.

Each MP has presented sureties and Akamba has deposited his passport with the court. The defense lawyers argued that the charges are not severe and even if convicted, the maximum penalty is ten years’ imprisonment or a fine.

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The prosecution requested more time to verify the documents presented by the sureties, including National Identification Cards (IDs) and Local Council One (LC1) letters. They also emphasized the seriousness of the offense and the accused’s status as MPs, making it a matter of public interest.

The accused will return to court on Friday 14, June 2024 for a ruling on their bail applications.

The trouble for these MPs began after President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s State of the Nation Address, where he disclosed evidence of corruption among public officials, including MPs allegedly colluding with accounting officers, the Ministry of Finance, and the Bank of Uganda for kickbacks. He suggested a possible amnesty for corrupt MPs, but faced disagreement from the majority of legislators.

The accused will await the court’s decision on on Friday 14, June 2024