Kampala, Uganda | URN | The High Court in Kampala has ordered Ugandan police and the military to vacate NUP President Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine’s home in Magare where he is restricted with his wife Barbara Itungo.
The outgoing head of the Civil Division of High Court Justice Michael Elubu has ruled that the continued indefinite restriction and confinement of the couple at their home is unlawful and therefore infringes on their constitutional right to liberty.
The ruling follows an application filed last week by Kyagulanyi’s lawyers led by Anthony Wameli the head of Legal Department at National Unity Platform [NUP].
The lawyers had sued the Attorney General, the Chief of Defense Forces and the Inspector General of Police, stating that Kyagulanyi and his wife Barbara have been confined at their home in Magere Kasangati Town Council in Wakiso district since January 14th 2021 after voting in the presidential and parliamentary elections. Kyagulanyi came second in the race of eleven candidates won by the incumbent Yoweri Museveni.
But the lawyers argued that the security operatives including police and UPDF have refused to leave the couple’s home at all and that the commanding officers of the said security agencies have not given any reasons for their detention.
Court heard further that the couple has been held illegally and not allowed to access their lawyers, visitors , family or doctors which infringed on their right to liberty.
As such, they asked court to order for the unconditional release of Kyagulanyi from his home where he was being confined, a place they said was not a gazetted place of detention.
But the respondents opposed the application arguing that Kyagulanyi previously flouted COVID-19 guidelines and also vowed to make Uganda ungovernable like Libya Iraq and Sudan.
Therefore, according to the affidavit sworn by the Director of Operations in Uganda Police Force Edward Ochom, the security forces kept Kyagulanyi at his home to protect the property of the citizens and for his own good as well.
But in his ruling read to the parties in open court, Justice Elubu dismissed the government’s defense saying that if they(government) had serious allegations against Kyagulanyi they needed to be dealt with by following due process.
According to the Judge, due process here means that if Kyagulanyi had any offense that he had committed, he should have been arreste , taken to police and produced to any Magistrates Court to be charged which has not been the case here.
“Having found as I do, the restrictions imposed on the applicant are unlawful. It is hereby ordered that they are lifted. Consequently, an order for the restoration of the personal liberty of the applicant herby issues,” said Elubu in a ruling read on his behalf by the Civil Division Registrar Jameson Karemani.
The Judge has also noted that due to the increasing numbers of Covid-19 and the the public health necessity, Kyagulanyi needs to comply with Standard operating procedures, once Kyagulanyi’s right to liberty is restored.
The court has also ordered the government to pay Kyagulanyi and his wife costs of the application for the constitutional rights violations caused to them.
Kyagulanyi’s lawyers led by George Musisi have welcomed the decision saying that it implies that the security that has been at Kyagulanyi’s home has to vacate immediately.