Speaker Anita Among has backtracked on her earlier statement that she didn’t commit any offence in receiving the iron sheets meant for the vulnerable communities in Karamoja, and instead used them to roof schools in Bukedea district.
In a new twist, the Speaker says she will return the iron sheets to the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Speaker made the shocking pronouncement during the plenary sitting, just a few hours after she defended Government Chief Whip, Denis Obua calling him clean because he was only given the iron sheets, and thus doesn’t qualify as a thief.
“I have decided to buy 500 iron sheets and give it back. I have sent my personal assistant, to take back the iron sheets to OPM. I have taken a personal responsibility but I must also thank the person who thought of Bukedea though it is also wrong thinking, but because I don’t want to be like I grabbed, I have decided to send them back.”
The Speaker defended her stance saying it is intended to uphold the integrity of Parliament and doesn’t want the scandal to taint the image of parliament.
John Baptist Nambeshe, Opposition Chief Whip thanked the Speaker for her gesture and asked fellow leaders who shared the iron sheets to emulate the Speaker.
“It is a show of deep remorse and I would say that the rest that are adversely mentioned in the saga of iron sheets meant for the vulnerable communities of Karamoja should follow suit. They should equally show remorse and not only being remorseful but also pick a leaf from you and even go an extra mile to double,” he said.
He was backed by Medard Lubega (Busiro East), who thanked the Speaker but vowed not to forgive the officials at the Office of the Prime Minister for spearheading the diversion of relief items for Karamoja people.
“I thank you in taking a positive decision and I want to draw a distinction in people who were invited and told there are relief items here from actually those who manage those relief items and knew where they were intended and feasted on them, I am not about to forgive them,” said Lubega.
However, the Speaker’s motive was brought into question when she forced Napak DWR, Faith Nakut to expunge her statement describing the beneficiaries of the iron sheets as thieves, saying the government officials who received the items were clueless of the fact that they were relief items.
“I want to thank you for your leadership especially on the issue of iron sheets. In Karamoja we believe in justice of restoration, if you steal someone’s car, you pay. So I would like to implore others that received to refund it,” said Nakut.
Achia Remigio (Pian County) who also doubles as Chairperson of Karamoja Parliamentary Group reacted saying, “This matter is a very sad one, but we thank you for your leadership, we thank you for your integrity. We must get to the bottom of this because how can this be happening?”
Although Ibrahim Ssemujju (Kira Municipality) thanked the Speaker for being exemplary, he said the items for Karamoja will need to go to Karamoja and also wondered if the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, had been arrested by Police following the Presidential directive to arrest all the officials who stole Karamoja iron sheets.
“The leader of government business is missing. So I wanted to find out if she has already been arrested because she took 3000 iron sheets or she is writing statement at Police because even today, the main stories are that ministers are going to begin recording statements. I want to know if the Premier hasn’t been arrested so we report to Police that she is here because we have a civic duty to report people that Police is looking for,” said Ssemujju.
The Speaker replied saying Premier Nabbanja had notified her about her absence, denying allegations of her arrest and warned Ssemujju against labeling Nabbanja as a thief.