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July 12, 2024
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UK sanctions Among, Nandutu, Kitutu over Karamoja iron sheets

The UK Government has slapped incredible sanctions of Speaker of Parliament Anita Among for exercising “corruption at its worst and that has no place in society.”

Speaker Among, the UK government said, benefited from the proceeds of the corruption in the Karamoja iron sheets scandal.

In a statement released April 30, the Deputy Foreign Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said Ms Among and two former Karamoja Affairs ministers Mary Goretti Kitutu and Agnes Nandutu will be subject to travel bans and asset freezes.

“Today, the UK is sending a clear message to those who think benefiting at the expense of others is acceptable. Corruption has consequences and you will be held responsible,” Mr Mitchell said.

The development is a huge indictment on Mr Museveni, who just last month leaped to a spirited defence of Ms Among in the face of allegations of gross corruption, this time related to her office’s spending.

The Speaker had been accused of spending billions of shillings of taxpayer’s sweat in per diem and gifts disguised as corporate social responsibility but she accused those she described as “bumshafters” of fanning a campaign against her for passing the anti-gay law last year.

Mr Museveni, speaking from Ms Among’s hometown of Bukedea, vowed to expose the “agents of foreigners” who were fighting the Speaker.

Together, the UK says Missus Among, Kitutu and Nandutu deprived a region in which “over 60 percent of people live in poverty and many suffer from the devastating impacts of drought and insecurity”.

It is the first time the UK government has used the Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions regime on individuals involved in corruption in Uganda.

“The actions of these individuals, in taking aid from those who need it most, and keeping the proceeds, is corruption at its worst and has no place in society,” Mr Mitchell said.

An asset freeze prevents any UK citizen, or any business in the UK, from dealing with any funds or economic resources which are owned, held or controlled by the designated person and which are held in the UK.

It will also prevent funds or economic resources being provided to or for the benefit of the designated person or entity

A travel ban means that the designated person is an excluded person under section 8B of the Immigration Act 1971, and must be refused leave to enter or to remain in the United Kingdom (any leave given to a person who is an excluded person is invalid).

Former ministers for Karamoja Affairs Kututu and Nandutu

 

 

The measures follow previous UK sanctions under the Global Anti-Corruption sanctions regime, which has targeted individuals involved in serious corruption cases across the world, including Bulgaria, Lebanon, Moldova, Russia, South Africa, South Sudan, and Venezuela.

The UK said Kitutu and Nandutu were previously ministers responsible for Uganda’s poorest region, Karamoja, and have been charged with corruption at Uganda’s Anti-Corruption Court, will be subject to travel bans and asset freezes.

“Kitutu and Nandutu stole thousands of iron sheets used for roofing and infrastructure from a Ugandan government-funded project aimed at housing some of the most vulnerable communities in the region, providing them to prominent politicians and their families instead,” the UK said.

In December 2021, Parliament passed a supplementary budget worth Shs39 billion to support various programmes in Karamoja, including the purchase of 100,000 iron sheet pieces, and other relief items like food and goats.

The iron sheet pieces were purchased in 2022 but investigators later found that ministers and other officials had shared 14,200 of the building materials among themselves.

Junior finance minister Amos Lugoloobi had already roofed a goat shed with the items. He was arrested alongside Kitutu and her junior Nandutu as President Museveni vowed political action against the “mabaati thieves and saboteurs of economic progress”.

In March, Mr Museveni finally sacked Kitutu and Nandutu but he retained Lugoloobi in his Cabinet.

Lugoloolobi, Kitutu and Nandutu are still facing charges before the anti-corruption court.

“The Ugandan courts are rightly taking action to crack down on those politicians who seek to line their own pockets at their constituents’ expense,” Mr Mitchell noted.

Since its introduction in April 2021, the UK has introduced sanctions on 42 individuals and entities under this regime globally to combat corruption across the world.

Under the UK’s Global Anti-Corruption sanctions regulations 2021, individuals and entities anywhere in the world can be sanctioned for their involvement in bribery or misappropriation of property involving a foreign public official.

This could include those who facilitate, profit from or try to cover up serious corruption, as well as making efforts to prevent authorities from carrying out justice for these actions.

UK Aid was not involved in the Ugandan government project.

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