Three MPs, Lawyer Sent To Luzira For Embezzling shs7.3bn Cooperative Money

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Three Members of Parliament and two others were on Friday remanded to Luzira prison by the Anti-Corruption Court Kampala on charges of diversion of public resources.

The MPS who were arrested during the week are accused of conspiracy to defraud government more than 7.3 billion shillings for Buyaka Growers Cooperatives Society Limited.

Igara East MP, Michael Mawanda, Elgon County MP, Mudimi Wamakuyu and their Busiki County counterpart, Paul Akamba are charged with Leonard Kavundira, the Principal Cooperative Officer in the Ministry of Trade.

Leonard Kavundira however was not among the remanded persons because he was not in court when the charges were read. City lawyer, Julius Kirya Taitankoko is among those charged.

The group on Friday afternoon appeared before the Court presided over by the Chief Magistrate, Joan Aciro. Aciro read to them five charges arising from the Penal Code Act and the Anti Corruption Act of 2009.

The Court heard that Mawanda, Wamakuyu, Akamba, Kirya, and Kavundira conspired to defraud 7.3 billion shillings that were meant for compensation of Buyaka Growers Cooperatives Society Limited in Bulambuli District. The charges were allegedly committed between 2019 and 2023.

According to the breakdown, the prosecution alleges that Mawanda in October 2021, in Kampala diverted public funds amounting to 1,50,000,000 shillings for purposes unrelated to that for which the resources were intended.

On the other hand, Wamakuyu and Akamba allegedly diverted 2.3 Billion Shillings and 200 million shillings respectively for their benefit. Kirya allegedly diverted 2.2 billion shillings.

The suspects are also said to have conspired to defraud 3.4 billion shillings meant for the Buyaka Cooperative Society Limited which is found in Bulambuli District.

The accused persons have however denied the charges which were sanctioned by the Director of Public Prosecutions-DPP, Jane Frances Abodo.

The Prosecution led by Raymond Mugisa and Jonathan Muwaganya, Edward Muhumuza informed the Court that investigations into this matter were complete and asked for a hearing date such that the trial can commence.

Baguma said the disclosure involves protocol and asked the Court to remand the accused persons for 14 days as the law requires, and also to give him more time to prepare the voluminous documents pertaining this case to share with the lawyers representing the accused persons.

However, the lawyers of the accused persons asked the Prosecution to furnish them with the documents and the necessary materials they intend to rely on to prosecute their clients.

In court, MP Mawanda instructed a team of seven lawyers led by former Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana to defend him against the allegation.

But they were not ready to apply for bail because they stated that their client had been held incommunicado(without being allowed to speak to anyone) when he was in police custody and didn’t get time to interact with him. Rukutana asked the court that MP Mawanda’s bail application be deferred to another date.

Similarly, Lawyer Caleb Alaka and Evans Ochieng said they didn’t know when their clients were going to be produced in Court and they didn’t know how many charges were going to be preferred against Wamakuyu.

Akamba ‘s lawyer Roberts Mackay said his client has been in state custody for seven days and they have been looking for him without success.

He said, they have been looking for him but , they were surprised to see him in the same clothes he disappeared wearing. The court heard that Akamba is recovering from the mental shock he suffered from his rearrest.

They were remanded to Luzira Prison until July 9th 2024.

Criminal summons have been issued requiring Principal Cooperatives Officer Leonard Kavundira who hasn’t appeared in court today to appear and be charged on Monday June 24th 2024.

Akamba now joins the Lwengo District Woman Member of Parliament Cissy Namujju and Bunyole East Constituency, MP Yusuf Mutembuli who are at Luzira prison waiting to appear before the High Court on a date that is not yet fixed.

The suspects in the cooperatives cash were arrested by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, headed by Brigadier General Henry Isoke and its at the helm of investigations in this particular file of swindling Cooperatives Cash.

Proceedings occurred as hundreds of Patriotic League of Uganda -PLU supporters led by PLU Secretary General, David Kabanda camped at the court premises donning t-shirts with the image of Mawanda and General Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Mawanda is the Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee in PLU.

There was also heavy deployment of security personnel in and outside the court premises. However, people wearing t-shirts were not allowed to enter the court premises.URN

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