The High court in Kampala has ordered the security to vacate with immediate effect the home of National Unity Platform presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine.
Kyagulanyi and his wife Barbara Itungo have been restricted from leaving their house in Magere, Wakiso district since January 14 when Ugandans took to the polls to elect the president and members of parliament. The Electoral Commission later declared the incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni with 59 per cent win followed by Kyagulanyi who obtained 35 per cent of the cast ballots.
The outgoing head of the Civil Division of High court justice Michael Elubu today 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 NUP.
Kyagulanyi through his lawyers had sued the attorney general, the chief of defense forces and the inspector general of police. The lawyers argued that the security operatives including police and the army 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 the detention.
Court heard further that the couple has been held illegally and not allowed to access their lawyers, visitors, family or doctors which infringes 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 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 arrested, taken to police and produced to any Magistrate's 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 hereby 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 infection cases and the public health necessity, Kyagulanyi needs to comply with the standard operating procedures once his right to liberty is restored.
The court has also ordered the government to pay Kyagulanyi and his wife costs of the application for the violations of their constitutional rights.
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.
Court has this morning ruled that former presidential candidate @HEBobiwine and wife Barbara kyagulanyi are illegally held in their home and ordered security operatives to vacate their home with immediate effect @observerug pic.twitter.com/t5yOROniMr— Nicholas Bamulanzeki (@bamulanzeki) January 25, 2021