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No, Ugandan state minister Agnes Nandutu didn’t try to escape from prison

IN SHORT: A scandal involving politicians skimming off roofing sheets meant for Uganda’s poor continues to captivate the public. But claims that a minister, detained by the police, tried to make a run for it are false, authorities say.

Several politicians in Uganda have been implicated in the theft of 14,500 iron sheets intended for poor people in the Karamoja subregion in the north-west of the country.

Agnes Nandutu, the state minister for Karamoja affairs, turned herself in to police detectives on 18 April 2023 for questioning over the scandal and was then taken into custody at a police station in the capital Kampala.

A Facebook post claims that Nandutu then attempted an escape from prison but was recaptured at the gate.

The post reads: “Reports coming in just now suggest that Agnes Nandutu, State Minister for Karamoja Affairs attempted to escape from prison but was arrested at the gate: More details to follow #NBSUpdates.”

The post is accompanied by a screengrab of what appears to be a broadcast from Uganda's mainstream TV channel NBS Television. It shows Nandutu standing behind a microphone.

The strapline in the Luganda language widely spoken in Uganda reads: “NAYE TEBIMUTABUKIDDE KATE AKAABE?”

This loosely – and nonsensically – translates to: “But doesn’t it confuse him to cry now?”

The claim and photo have also been published on Twitter here and here. The tweets have attracted over 146,000 views on Twitter and hundreds of engagements.

But did NBS Television report that Nandutu attempted to unsuccessfully escape from prison? We checked.


‘Fake news’ say TV channel and prisons service

A Google reverse image search revealed that the screengrab was taken on 19 April 2023 when Nandutu was arraigned in court after which she was remanded.

But on 22 April, NBS Television posted a screenshot of the circulating post on its official Facebook page with the words  “FAKE”.

On 26 April, the Uganda Prisons Service also posted the screenshot on its  official Twitter account, also dismissing it as “FAKE NEWS”.

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