The hearing of a case against the state minister for Karamoja Affairs Agnes Nandutu at the Anti-Corruption court has flopped and adjourned to June 16.
On Thursday, the hearing couldn't go on because the defense lead lawyer for Nandutu, Caleb Alaka was unwell. Nandutu is charged with dealing with suspect property. The prosecution team led by chief state attorney David Bisamunyu and Jonathan Muwaganya from the office of the director of public prosecutions said it was the second time the state has come to court with its witnesses ready to prosecute the accused minister and the defense still not ready to proceed.
The last time, Alaka came with an application seeking to block Nandutu's trial before the Anti-Corruption court but didn't succeed. On Thursday, his colleague Evans Ochieng told journalists that they cannot proceed because one of them is unwell. Interestingly, all Nandutu's four lawyers including Caleb Alaka, Evans Ochieng, Charles Wamukota, and John Nalera were seen present in court before the adjournment.
URN later learnt that Alaka was suffering from cough and flu. The prosecution alleges that Nandutu dealt with 2,000 pre-painted iron sheets gauge 28 - well 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.
Earlier, justice Jane Okuo Kajuga dismissed an application by lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi that also sought to halt Nandutu's trial before the Anti-Corruption court on grounds that Mabirizi had no locus to bring the application on behalf of the accused person. She observed that Mabirizi is not a party to the criminal trial of the accused minister and was not even permitted by Nandutu to file the application but that he was fronting his own interests.
“I note that the applicant is not a party to the proceedings before me. The accused in that case has not authorized the applicant to bring the human rights violation (matter) on her behalf. In fact, the applicant was emphatic that he was representing his own interests and not those of the accused, whom he had also sued," said Kajuga.
She added that in the circumstances, she saw no cause to stop the process of the criminal justice system as regards her trial. Mabirizi wanted the trial halted pending his ruling where he is challenging the trial of politicians in this iron sheets scandal. He argues that the minister's fundamental rights to equal protection of the law were infringed upon by prosecuting her for mistakes of public servants yet accountability in public service is in the hands of the permanent secretary and his staff.