Karamoja Affairs minister, Mary Goretti Kitutu has apologised to President Yoweri Museveni and asked for forgiveness over the Karamoja iron sheets scandal.
Kitutu who is facing trial over the scandal alongside fellow ministers; Amos Lugolobi and Agnes Nandutu has also been summoned to appear before Inspector General of Government (IGG), Beti Kamya Turomwe this Thursday, January 11.
Kitutu, along with her brother, Michael Naboya Kitutu, and personal assistant Joshua Abaho, face charges for diverting over 10,000 prepainted iron sheets from the intended Karamoja Community Empowerment Program for personal and third-party benefits.
Now, in a December 20, 2023 letter, Kitutu, Nandutu and Lugolobi expressed gratitude to the president for “having kept us in cabinet despite intensive negative publicity that was awash the media for five months since February this year. We thank you for the fatherly decision may God bless you more”.
“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 goes on to tell the president how it has been difficult for her and the co-accused to secure a meeting with him.
“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.” She 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 finally asked the president to direct the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to drop the charges against the accused persons and allow the matter to be solved politically through discussion.
“We sincerely pledge to be patriots and always support the NRM Agenda of fighting corruption,” Kituti says.
More missing iron sheets
Kitutu appears to report to the president seemingly a fresh scandal of more missing iron sheets at the same Office of the Prime Minister.
“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.
It is not immediately clear if this could be the reason why the IGG is summoning Kitutu as a witness in the latest scandal.
Meanwhile, Kitutu’s lawyer Jude Byamukama has protested the latest summons by the IGG, saying it is an attempt by Kamya and her team to resurrect investigations yet his client is supposed to undergo 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 wondered under what legal regime his client who is already under trial is being required to submit to a new investigation over matters forming 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.