Tears as chief magistrate, prosecutor charged

Chief Magistrate Sylvia Nvanungi (left) and  State attorney Jackline Bako in the dock at the Anti-Corruption Court in Wandegeya, Kampala on November 22, 2023. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA  

What you need to know:

  • The duo is accused of soliciting a bribe from a court user in Sembabule District.

The Chief Magistrate of Sembabule District broke down at the Anti-Corruption Court before she was, together with a co-accused State Attorney, charged and remanded to Luzira Prison. 

Ms Sylvia Nvanungi, the Chief Magistrate of Sembabule District, and her co-accused Ms Jackline Bako, the resident State Attorney in the Office of the Public Prosecutions (ODPP) attached to same district, are accused of soliciting a bribe from a court user. 

The two suspects, who appeared before the Chief Magistrate, Ms Joan Aciro, denied seven corruption charges regarding soliciting and receiving bribes from different persons undergoing trial.

“I have heard from the applicant, but none of the sureties has presented any documentation like letters of introduction and identification. With all these shortfalls, this court does not find them substantial,” Magistrate Aciro ruled on the application presented by Ms Nvanungi. 

She added: “The applicant had applied to present the documents later but I am bound by the rules of court and the bail guidelines.” 

Ms Aciro remanded the two senior government officials to Luzira prison until today for the hearing of their bail application.

While presenting two sureties, Ms Nvanungi applied for bail citing ill-health and also the need to have the matter resolved administratively, but the State objected to the application.

Ms Bako did not apply for bail, reasoning that her lawyer and sureties were not present in court.  

The duo was arrested yesterday as they reported to the State House Anti-Corruption Unit before they were driven to the court.

Prosecution case
Mr Stanley Baine, the State Attorney, told court that investigations into the matter are still ongoing.  He requested for a date to mention the case.

The State alleges that while at the RSA’s office in Sembabule Town, Ms Bako being a public official employed by the government, solicited a gratification of Shs2.5 million from Zedekai Karinti in exchange for the grant of bail to him who had been issued with criminal summons.

It is further alleged that on the same day, Ms Bako accepted a bribe of Shs1.4m from Mr Franco Mulangwa in exchange for a grant of bail to Karinti.

The prosecution alleges that in April, Ms Bako and Ms Nvanungi solicited a bribe of Shs2.5 million from the relatives of Mr John Ambasize who was on remand in exchange for his release on bail.

It is further alleged that in May 2022 at the State Attorney’s office in Sembabule Town, Ms Bako solicited a gratification of Shs10 million from Karintu so that he is excluded from a charge sheet.

Karintu had been charged with offences of attempted murder, criminal trespass, and malicious damage to property.      
Prosecution also states that in March and April, Ms Bako solicited gratification of Shs2m from relatives of Eric Sabiti, a suspect in a case of attempted murder, in exchange for bail.