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DPP Orders Start Of Trial Of 4 OPM Officials Accused Of Inflating COVID-19 Food Prices

Jane Frances Abodo, the Director of Public Prosecution has ordered for the trial of the Four Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) officials who are accused of   inflating prices of food meant for the vulnerable poor under the COVID-19 food relief program to start before the Anti-corruption court.

State Attorney James Khaukha, who represented the DPP informed 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- Christine Guwatudde Kintu, the Head Procurement Unit- Fred Lutimba Kyeyune, 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 honoured 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 of October 2020.

The Magistrate has also directed Buganda road court where they first appeared during the COVID-19 nationwide Lockdown to transfer the accused person Passports to now the trial court in Kololo.

The 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 Shs32.340bn in total disregard of the procurement procedure

They allegedly committed the Offence between 31st/March and 9th/April/2020 at OPM offices 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.

However, they maintain they are innocent until proved guilty.

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