Uganda arrests second minister over alleged iron sheet theft


Uganda's assistant finance minister has been arrested and detained on accusations of diverting metal roofing sheets meant for a relief program in the restive northeastern Karamoja region, police said late on Friday.

Amos Lugoloobi's arrest is the second of a minister in recent weeks over the roofing sheets' diversion.

Police said Lugoloobi's arrest was authorised by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as part of "investigations into the alleged theft and diversion of iron sheets meant for the Karamoja region."

"The office of the DPP has sanctioned criminal charges against ... Lugoloobi," a police statement on Twitter said. "As a result, he has been arrested and detained...pending court."

Arrests and prosecution of senior government officials for corruption are rare in the East African country.

Critics have long cited the failure to prosecute senior officials allied with President Yoweri Museveni for corruption as evidence his government was unwilling or unable to root out graft.

Police did not say when Lugoloobi would be produced in court to be charged.

Lugoloobi could not be reached for comment, and his lawyer is not known at the moment.

Karamoja Affairs Minister Mary Goretti Kitutu was detained and charged last week with several offences, including "loss of public property" and "conspiracy to defraud" over the diversion of iron sheets.

Kitutu was accused of diverting 14,500 roofing iron sheets "to her own benefit and to the benefit of third parties." She pleaded not guilty and was detained until Friday, when she was released on bail.

Karamoja, in a remote region bordering Kenya and South Sudan, is home to pastoral nomads vulnerable to frequent droughts and deadly cattle raids by warriors who use illegally acquired guns traded across porous borderlands.

Security personnel have been conducting a disarmament program in the region, and the roofing materials were meant for distribution to youths to induce them to abandon illegal cattle raiding and other criminal activities.

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