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L-R: MPs Michael Mawanda Maranga, Ignatius Wamakuyu Mudimi, Paul Akamba and lawyer Julius Kirya in court

Another three Ugandan MPs have been remanded to Luzira prison over allegations of engaging in corruption practices.

Micheal Maranga Mawanda (Igara East), Ignatius Wamakuyu Mudimi (Elgon County) and Paul Akamba (Busiki County) were on Friday remanded by the Anti-Corruption court in Kampala on charges of diversion of public resources. 

The trio, alongside city lawyer, Julius Kirya of Kirya Company Advocates and others still at large, allegedly conspired and collectively diverted over Shs 7.3 billion for their personal use between 2019 and 2023. The funds were meant for war loss compensation to Buyaka Growers Cooperative Society in Bulambuli district.

Chief magistrate, Joan Aciro, remanded them until next month July 9. The MPs are also charged with Leonard Kavundira, the principal cooperative officer in the ministry of Trade. Kavundira however was not among the remanded persons because he was not in court when the charges were read. 

This comes just a week after two other MPs; Cissy Namujju (Lwengo Woman) and Yusuf Mutembuli (Bunyole East) were also remanded to Luzira over different corruption charges. The arrests of the legislators come after President Yoweri Museveni separately said during the State of Nation Address and budget reading at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds that he now has evidence implicating MPs and officials at ministry of Finance and Bank of Uganda who have been conspiring to steal public funds via inflated budgets and kickbacks.

The prosecution alleges that Mawanda in October 2021 while in Kampala, diverted public funds amounting to over Shs 1.5 billion. On the other hand, Wamakuyu and Akamba allegedly diverted Shs 2.3 billion and Shs 200 million respectively for their personal benefits. Kirya allegedly also diverted Shs 2.2 billion.

The suspects however denied the charges sanctioned by director of public prosecutions (DPP), Jane Frances Abodo. The prosecution led by Raymond Mugisa, Jonathan Muwaganya and Edward Muhumuza informed the court that investigations into this matter were complete and asked for a hearing date such that the trial could 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 the state more time to prepare the voluminous documents about the case set to be shared with the lawyers of the accused persons.

Mawanda has since instructed a team of seven lawyers led by former deputy attorney general Mwesigwa Rukutana to defend him against the allegations. Rukutana informed the court that they were not ready to apply for bail for their client since he had been held incommunicado (without being allowed to speak to anyone) by police and didn't get time to interact with him. Rukutana further told court that MP Mawanda's bail application be deferred to another date.

Similarly, lawyers; Caleb Alaka and Evans Ochieng said they didn't know when their client Wamakuyu would be produced in court and how many charges would be preferred against him. 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 did not know the whereabouts of Akamba and were surprised to see him in court in the same clothes that he was wearing when he got violently rearrested by security agents after being granted bail by court a week ago. They told court that Akamba is still recovering from the mental shock he suffered from his rearrest.

Meanwhile, criminal summons have been issued requiring Kavundira to appear in court next Monday, June 24. The suspects in the cooperatives cash scandal were arrested by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU), headed by Brig Gen Henry Isoke.

Several Patriotic League of Uganda (PLU) supporters led by their secretary general, David Kabanda camped outside court premises after being blocked by security from entering court. The PLU supporters were donning T-shirts bearing images of Mawanda and Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Mawanda is the chairperson of the disciplinary committee in PLU. By URN/The Observer

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