The four jailed OPM officials who allegedly hiked prices for COVID-19 food relief are appearing before Buganda Road court from Kigo and Kitalya prisons via video conferencing seeking to be released on bail.
The Permanent Secretary, Christine Guwatudde through her senior criminal lawyer Mac Dusman Kabega says the cases in which she is charged are bailable and prosecution is not aware when investigations will be completed.
Guwatudde further says she is ill and as per the medical report authored by the acting medical superintendent of prisons, Alex Kakoraki, she is suffering from peptic ulcers and other stomach disorders. This coupled with chronic hypertension, means she can’t stand prison conditions.
However, the state has opposed the bail application saying once the said officials are released on bail, there is a likelihood that they may interfere with prosecution witnesses since they are all their subordinates working at the OPM.
The 4 officials include the Permanent Secretary Christine Guwatudde Kintu and the accounting officer/ under Secretary, Joel Wanjala were charged on April 14th 2020 for inflating prices of food relief during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
They are jointly charged with John Martin Owor, a commissioner in-charge of relief and disaster preparedness and Henry Lutimba Kyeyune, an assistant commissioner heading procurement in the OPM, for offences of colluding to commit fraudulent actions which offend rules governing Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA Act).
After announcing a lockdown as one of the measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, government through the prime minister’s office decided to distribute food relief to the masses.
However, the prosecution alleges that between March 31st and April 8th, the accused inflated food prices than those offered by suppliers.