18 National Unity Platform (NUP) supporters who were arrested in Kalangala District last year will stay in jail longer after court again deferred ruling on their bail application.
The NUP supporters were supposed to appear in the court martial today for their bail application ruling which didn’t happen after they were informed that court has been adjourned.
“We have been informed that court has been adjourned with no reason given. This is another scheme to continue keeping our comrades under illegal detention.” the message posted on the official party social media page reads.
According to NUP lawyer Benjamin Katana who was at the Makindye-based military court, the proceedings didn’t takeoff and “no formal reason was given for adjournment as they (lawyers) were not given audience.”
While the reason for adjournment is yet to be confirmed, a circular released by the judiciary on Monday afternoon announced suspension of all Court hearings and appearances for the period of 42 days with effect from 7th June 2021 as one of the measures to curb rising COVID-19 infections in the country. The Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny Dollo said the move is in line with President Museveni’s directives on prevention and mitigation of the virus.
The suspects have spent six months in detention and are part of the 49 NUP supporters arrested upon arrival in Kalangala district on December 30th 2021 during the campaign trail of former NUP presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu.
Robert Kyagulanyi was challenging president Yoweri Museveni’s 35-year rule. The suspects have been previously denied bail “pending investigations into the alleged offenses” including illegal possession of ammunition.
On May 25, 2021, 17 of the suspects were released but with tough bail conditions including restrictions on their movement to be within Kampala and Wakiso.
Those in detention include Ali Bukeni alias Nubian Li, Edward Ssebuufu alias Eddie Mutwe, Hassan Ssemakula alias Abdul Souldier, Kenny Kyalimpa, Lukeman Mwijukye alias Kampala, Ibrahim Tamale, Muzafuru Mwanje alias Main Gate alias Muwa, Achileo Kivumbi, Joseph Onzima alias Tawa, Anthony Agaba alias Bobi Young, Robert Kivumbi alias Mighty Family and Brian Ssemanda alias Dictator Museveni Must Go. The others are Geoffrey Mutalya, Richard Kalema alias Ricardo, Alex Karamagi alias Doggy city, Daniel Onywerot alias Dan Magic, Isma Muganga alias Jaja Isma and Baker Kalyango.
Their lawyers applied for bail for the entire group on grounds that some of them had been tortured while under custody, some had health problems that required special medical attention while others were sole bread winners at their respective homes.
The lawyers also argued that the accused were still innocent until proven guilty adding that the charges against them were bailable. But following several pleas, the court released 17 of the supporters last week.
The court chose to keep the 18 on remand in Kitalya and Kigo government’s Prisons until today to pronounce ruling on their application.