Kampala – The Karamoja Affairs State Minister, Agnes Nandutu is out on cash bail of Shillings 10million.
She was released by the Anti-Corruption High Court Lady Justice, Jane Okuo Kajuga Thursday morning on grounds of ill health and the presumption of innocence on the charge of dealing with suspect property, which she has since denied.
Nandutu was remanded to prison on May 3rd, 2023 following her arrest in connection to the Karamoja iron sheet scandal. The prosecution alleges that Nandutu dealt with 2,000 prepainted iron sheets Gauge 28, knowing that they were obtained as a result of the loss of public property, an offense under Section 10 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2000.
Nandutu’s lawyers, led by Charles Nandaah Wamukota, presented three sureties, including the former leader of opposition in Parliament, James Nathan Nandala Mafabi, Member of Parliament Gerald Nangoli, and Bududa District LC5 Chairperson Kamoti Milton Apolo Wasumbuyi. Nandutu also has a fixed place of abode within the jurisdiction of the court, a passport, a land title, and National and Parliament Identification Cards.
However, the prosecution requested that the court deny her bail, claiming that only Nandala Mafabi had demonstrated the financial capacity to compel Nandutu to return to trial and pay the monies involved in the case if she absconded from the trial. The prosecution also relied on an affidavit sworn by Emmanuel Benon Ayebare, a police detective, who described Nandutu as a flight risk.
The court heard that when Nandutu was summoned by police, she abandoned her home, and all three known phones were switched off. Furthermore, a search at her home, farm, and known places of abode yielded no results. Nandutu’s official driver, Corporal Patrick Kunya, revealed that he was last in touch with Nandutu on April 14th, 2023, on the date she had been summoned to the police.
From that date, her official driver did not know her whereabouts until she was formally arrested on April 18th, 2023. Police Constable John Etuka’s verification established that Nandutu dismissed him after work on April 14th, and he could not establish where she was. Muwaganya, the prosecutor, further submitted evidence to show that Nandutu went into hiding on April 17th, 2023.
The Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga, then declared her a wanted person in a press conference. Nandutu surrendered herself to CID headquarters the next morning.
Muwaganya submitted before the court that Nandutu’s farm guard in Nantabulilwa, Private Constable Ernest Wakabi, said she had not returned to her place of residence on April 14th, since 10 am, when she was last booked out of the residential diary book.
Prosecutors claimed that Nandutu’s previous conduct showed that she was a flight risk. Kajuga directed Nandutu, who appeared nervous and anxious during the court proceedings, to deposit her passport and two land titles, including one for her Mukono-based home, as additional security in the court. She also directed Nandala to deposit the duplicate land title for his property in Namugongo in court.
To prevent Nandutu from absconding during the trial, Lady Justice Kajuga also instructed her not to leave the country without permission from the court and to continue reporting as required. The trial has been adjourned until May 25th, 2023, when it will commence.