Injustice has put Uganda on a Time Bomb - Lord Mayor Lukwago
As the faithful gathered at St. Agnes Kibuye- Makindye parish on September 18, 2022 to pray for Hon. Allan Ssewanyana and Hon. Ssegirinnya Mohammad, the Mayor of Kampala, His Worship Erias Lukwago, told the congregation that Uganda was sitting on a time bomb due to the excessive injustices going on in the country.
Allan Ssewanyana is the Member of Parliament for Makindye West, and the area MP for St. Agnes Kibuye-Makindye, while Ssegirinnya Mohammad is the MP for Kawempe North. The two MPs have been in prison for a full year on charges relating to terrorism, murder and attempted murder. Erias Lukwago is their lead lawyer.
The two youthful MPs are members of the popular National Unity Platform (NUP) party. Their arrest was based on the panga-wielding terror that gripped parts of Masaka and saw a number of people murdered in cold blood, just after the 2021 general elections which saw the area overwhelmingly vote for NUP.
With over a year since the arrest of the MPs, the Judiciary has been portrayed as a nuisance and a disgrace when it comes to the administration of justice, especially where the interests of the rulers are all over the place.
Denied justice for over a year, NUP found it fit to organise for a Holy Sacrifice of Mass to pray for justice and peace in the country.
“This country is on a time bomb for lack of justice. Government wants to send Allan Ssewanyana and Ssegirinnya Mohammad to the death row without trial,” Lukwago told the attentive congregation.
The Lord Mayor elaborated the instances of injustice that the arrest has exposed, emphasizing that “there is no law pinning the MPs but that it is cheap and primitive politics at play.” He observed that the Bill of rights in Chapter four states that anyone has a right to bail, adding that the law had on three occasions set the MPs free.
The first instance was when Court granted the “political prisoners” bail and demanded for 20 million shillings from each MP which they paid. The State re-arrested them and President Museveni is remembered for coming out strongly against the granting of bail to the duo.
“It was my first time to witness a bail of 20 million shillings in my years of practice, and the Judiciary took the money.
“Even the Constitution, which Museveni often prides himself in but only wants to respect when his selfish interests are upheld, states that if one is on remand for six month without trial, that person should be released. Capital offences are supposed to be heard in 180 days.”
Lukwago further told the Congregation that the third time when the MPs were legally freed but denied justice was based on the requirement that “when the State fails to bring evidence, Court has the right to free the suspect,” Lukwago went on to narrate.
“The evidence they have so far brought is the death certificates for those who died! But we insist that they bring evidence to prove that the two MPs were behind the murders of the people in Masaka. When the Judge insisted that the case be heard, the Judge was removed under dubious circumstances.”
The Lord Mayor further said that at the International Criminal Division court, one of the suspects undressed before court to reveal how he had been severely tortured and forced to say that the two MPs had paid them to carry out the panga attacks in Masaka!
The Lord Mayor went on to say that they had taken the battle for peace and justice for the MPs, and the entire country, to the Chief Justice but is yet to receive a satisfactory response. He said that he wanted the Chief Justice to tell him what it means to him to take the bail money for the MPs and not free them.
Lukwago used the occasion to highlight other injustices and oppression in the country that have become the order of the day. He pointed out the deplorable state of Salaama road which passes below St. Agnes-Kibuye Makindye church, to the upscale areas of Munyonyo and Ggaba.
“We borrowed money from the Africa Development Bank for Salaama road but the works are delaying because some people look at this as the opportunity to enrich themselves. Now the IGG has come in to investigate the project and this is further delay.”
Lukwago gave the example of Lukuli road, which was constructed at ten billion shillings per kilometer, as the example of obscene accumulation of wealth. He asked Hon. Derrick Nyeko, the MP for Makindye East whom he referred to as the twin brother of Allan Ssewanyana, “to command the struggle to uplift our people and to have peace and justice.”
Given his unwavering commitment to justice and peace, Lukwago has been nicknamed “Rule of law” by people in Kampala and beyond. On his part, he refers to himself as “the shield for the people of Kampala.”
The Lord Mayor praised the Catholic Church for its Justice and Peace department pointing out that “the country moves on peace and justice. Without one, the other cannot exist.” He praised the National Unity Platform for being strong and focused.
The parish priest of St. Agnes Kibuye-Makindye, who was also the main celebrant, Fr. Joseph Lugobe, assured the congregation that God was in their midst and will grant their hearts’ desire.
“The Egyptians took forty years to reach the Promised Land but finally they did reach the Promised Land. One day we shall get our hearts’ desire.”
Fr. Lugobe also added that God always fulfills His promises and that since He promised to answer all who turn to Him, they too should never lose hope.
“Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened.”
Further emphasizing God’s unfailing help, he referred the congregation to the Archdiocesan theme for this year, extracted from Mark 2:11 which states: “Do not be afraid, Rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
At least 26 people lost their lives during the Masaka-panga vicious murders. President Museveni referred to the perpetrators as pigs and vowed to “crush them.” The world was shocked by these murders and looked forward to the day when justice would be done.
It defeats logic when the trial of the so called suspects is instead turned into circus. This brings to memory when Rt. Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye was arrested and charged of rape and treason as he campaigned for the presidency. Fictitious witnesses stepped forward but their drama was unmasked by legal brains led by David Mpanga.
The current chairman of the Electoral Commission, Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama, featured prominently in these sham trials. We pray that the country is not once again portraying itself as a rouge state turning the Judiciary into oppressive machinery against political opponents.
It took the professionalism and independence of men like Justice Lugayizi, Justice James Ogola and Justice John Bosco Katutsi to unmask the devil. As Ugandans, and the whole world at large, silently watch the drama as it unfolds, all eyes are on the Judiciary to establish its ability to administer justice for the peace of this once Pearl of Africa.