Museveni orders IGG, ethics probe on Speaker Among's UK wealth

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Museveni orders IGG, ethics probe on Speaker Among's UK wealth
President Museveni says he was briefed by the UK High Commission prior to UK's announcement of the sanctions

NATIONAL | President Museveni has directed the Inspectorate of Government and Ethics ministry to look into Speaker Anita Among's UK wealth after revealing he was briefed by the UK government prior to its sanctions on Ugandan officials.

The UK government slapped Speaker Among and two former Karamoja Affairs ministers Mary Goretti Kitutu and Agnes Nandutu with travel ban and asset freezes for what it called "epitome of corruption and [that has] no place in society".

The Nile Post revealed on Tuesday, May 7, that the Central Bank of UAE had also issued warning to all financial institutions in the Middle East country to thwart any transactions coming from Among, Nandutu or Kitutu.

In a May 2 letter to Foreign Affairs minister Jeje Odongo, Mr Museveni said he had had an urgent meeting with the British High Commissioner, Ms Kate Airey OBE, at State House Nakasero on the day UK government announced the sanctions.

"She told me that they were going to sanction Speaker Among. I said: 'why?'. She said Anita Among has got a house or houses in UK and has got bank accounts from which she pays schools fees for her children who are studying there," the President wrote.

“I told her that the issue of houses would be very interesting if, especially, Anita Among did not declare them in her Leadership Code documents,” he added.

The President said if Ms Among indeed had houses in the UK, then the next issue would be to ascertain where she got the money to build them.

If both of questions are answered and no wrongdoing is found, he added, the remaining issue would be a matter of political and ideological judgement.

Mr Museveni revealed he had asked the UK government to provide more information about Ms Among's alleged wealth in the UK.

"Why would a Ugandan leader build or buy houses in UK or anywhere else abroad, when Uganda, the still under-developed country where she would have earned the money, still needs those investments?" the President asked.

"It would definitely be a moral and ideological mistake."

The President directed the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and Minister of Integrity to "inform me" if Anita Among declared in her forms of the Leadership Code her owning of a house or houses in the UK.

Ms Among, who is copied in the letter, has previously denied owning anything in the UK and cited political witch-hunt for pushing through with the Anti-Homosexuality Act in May last year.

"I don't have any properties in UK, not even a pussycat," she said on May 3. "Go ahead and freeze them, and see if I will complain."

On March 17, President Museveni accepted Speaker Among's invite to her home in Bukedea where he defended the embattled former Opposition politician who had "fallen into things" in a whirlwind.

At Bukedea, Ms Among commissioned a teaching hospital and her secondary school, with the facilities named after the President's children.

At the time, the Speaker was under fire over allegations of gross corruption related to per diem and what her office called corporate social responsibility in which she doled out billions of taxpayer money to whoever met her fancy.

Many who have watched the political grandmastery of Museveni over the years smelt something amiss, citing the President was probably in Bukedea to confirm rumours of Ms Among's wealth.

Barely two months later and that strong public defence appears nowhere.

The government had earlier responded feebly to the sanctions and refused to criticise the UK.

And now the President has asked the Attorney-General and Ministry of Foreign Affairs for guidance on how to handle the predicament posed by the Speaker's corruption scandal and subsequent sanctions.

Meanwhile, Mr Museveni also asked the Attorney-General to clarify the legality of the UK's sanctions on Kitutu and Nandutu, calling is an internal matter.

He said the corruption scandal was revealed by Ugandan agencies and that the two were still in court and had not yet be found guilty.

“Since the accused have not yet been convicted, I wonder how other countries can justify intervening in this matter?" he queried

While Kitutu and Nandutu are facing prosecution, Ms Among has swiftly returned 500 pieces of iron sheets she had received when the revelations came out.

The iron sheets were from a government-funded housing project aimed at assisting vulnerable communities in Karamoja.

Speaker Among was found to have benefited from the proceeds of the theft, according to the statement released by London.

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