The trial of four Officials in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) implicated in the inflation of COVID-19 food relief prices that was slated to begin today before the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court has failed to commence.
The hearing of the case has been adjourned to 8th December, 2020 (next Tuesday) when the trial Judge Magret Tibulya will be present.
The Anti-Corruption Court Acting Deputy Registrar Pamella Lamunu Ochaya has adjourned the matter and ordered the accused persons to report back on that date.
These include Permanent Secretary, Ms. Guwatudde Christine Kintu, Under Secretary, Mr. Joel Wanjala, the Commissioner in charge of Relief Disaster Preparedness and Head of the COVID-19 Relief Management, Mr. John Martin Owor and the Assistant Commissioner Head of Procurement and Disposal Unit Mr. Lutimba Kyeyune Fred.
On 28th October, 2020 the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Ms. Jane Frances Abodo ordered for their committal to the High Court where Prosecution intends to adduce evidence to show that the four officials started the procurement of the relief food in March 2020 four days to the official announcement by the President to distribute food to the Vulnerable Urban Poor who had been badly affected by COVID-19 Nation Wide Lockdown.
Prosecution will also lead evidence to show that Guwatudde signed the award letters to suppliers to distribute the required food items without authorisation of the accounting officer who is her co-accused Joel Wanjala.
DPP will also prove that the procurement didn’t go through any bidding process to select the suitable companies to supply the said food and neither was there a Market Survey to confirm the actual cost of the maize, beans, sugar and powdered milk that was to be supplied.
But rather the Suppliers were contacted by John Martin Owor through Telephone Calls and WhatsApp Messages.
DPP contends that this exposed Consumers to poor quality food and government at a risk of paying for substandard food since most of the Companies were not qualified.
Prosecution will further reveal that after a renegotiation with the Suppliers who had been tipped by the accused persons to supply a kilogram of beans at Shs 5000 and Maize at Shs 3000, a whooping Shs 4.5Bn worth tax payers money was saved.
The accused Officials who are out on bail granted to them by the Magistrate Division of the Anti-Corruption Court will formally plead to the charges before Justice Magret Tibulya.