The Anti-Corruption Court has sentenced two former Ministry of Finance officials to two years in prison after finding them guilty of soliciting a bribe of $50,000 so as to speed up financing the construction of a power station for the Sukuru phosphate project in Tororo.
Mr John Ogol and Mr Geoffrey Turyamuhika have also been banned from holding public office for the offence they committed on March 27 2017.
While delivering the ruling on Monday, Justice Lawrence Gidudu said the punishments were aimed at emphasizing government efforts to fight corruption.
“I am inclined to impose a sentence that would communicate the message that corruption if proven in this court would attract punishment. At the same time, the sentence would not be such as to keep away the convicts from supporting their families for too long considering that what had received as a bribe was seized and exhibited in court,” Justice Gidudu said.
He added: “The court would not impose a sentence that is laughable to the extent that it would encourage persons to commit the same crime hoping that they would walk in and out even after being convicted without being scratched as a constant reminder that corruption is bad.”
Prosecution states that in 2017, Guangzhou Dongsongh Energy Group Uganda Limited wanted to establish a factory at Sukulu in Tororo District to manufacture phosphates and other products.
The investor needed power to run the factory complex, but government did not have ready money to build a power substation. According to the indictment, the investor was willing to finance the power project if the government could guarantee to refund its money.
Justice Gidudu said: “The convicts saw an opportunity to make quick buck and demanded to be paid a bribe upfront. When a deposit of $50,000 was paid, they shared it out.”
However, he acquitted the convicts on the charge of corruption in connection with soliciting for a gratification of $300,000 from Sserunjogi.
“The prosecution did not address me on the irregularity in their final submissions. It is my conclusion that the prosecution did not prove the charges against the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt,” ruled Justice Gidudu citing inconsistencies in the material presented and the dates provided by witnesses.