Kampala Woman MP and Lawyer, Shamim Malende has described as regrettable the style in which Kawempe North lawmaker, Mohammad Ssegirinya has been re-arrested moments after being temporarily freed from Kigo Prison.
Ssegirinya and his Makindye West counterpart, Allan Ssewanyana, were jointly arrested on September 8, 2021 and taken to Masaka Magistrate’s Court on charges of murder, attempted murder and terrorism in relation to the recent mysterious killings of people using machetes in Greater Masaka sub-region which left 26 people dead. They were remanded to Kigo Government Prison.
The International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court would last week grant bail to Ssewanyana but Ssegirinya needed to wait a little longer as his lawyers processed another surety for him since his first one, Mityana Municipality legislator, Francis Zaake had moved out of the country.
However, moments after walking out of Kigo Prison, Ssewanyana was rearrested by security and he is currently detained at the Special Investigations Division (SID) in Kireka awaiting either release on police bond or being arraigned before courts of law to answer the charges.
Meanwhile for Ssegirinya, the ICD Court on Monday released him on bail, after substituting Zaake with Ntenjeru North’s legislator, Nsanja Patrick as his surety.
And just like how it was the case for Ssewanyana, Ssegirinya was picked outside Kigo prison by security forces and driven to the then unknown place.
His lawyer, Malende would immediately take to Facebook to say that “Hon Ssegirinya was pulled out of my car as we exited Kigo prison and taken to unknown destination by security operatives clad in black attire.”
SoftPower News has since engaged with her to understand what exactly happened.
She says after getting the release order from ICD Court, together with some family members, they moved to Kigo Prison to have Ssegirinya released, only to be blocked from accessing the prison premises.
“When we reached Kigo Prison, all family members, myself and journalists were blocked from coming closer to prison. We were put at a distance where we couldn’t witness anything that was happening inside the prison,” narrates Malende.
She says that she was later allowed in with her car together one of Ssegirinya’s family members. “The security personnel said I had been allowed-in to deliver the release order.”
“I then drove through a number of roadblocks to the main gate where security personnel again denied me access. They asked me to hand-in court documents so they could deliver them-in for verification to ascertain whether my client (Ssegirinya) had actually been granted bail and that if it is confirmed, Ssegirinya would find us at the gate,” she says.
Malende said she first objected to releasing the order and the receipts but she finally gave-in, and then the officers went inside with the papers. She says they would now be ordered to extend and park a distance from the gate.
After a few hours, Malende says, “we saw Ssegirinya from a distance being escorted out of the prison coming to our side and they signalled that we go and pick him but as we did, I saw a vehicle double cabin and grey in colour suspiciously parked at the same spot Ssewanyana was arrested. I then told the person I was with in the car that there is something wrong, we need to hurriedly have Ssegirinya removed out of here.”
She narrates that Ssegirinya “was very alert” as he quickly ran and entered into her car. Meanwhile, the vehicle she was suspicious about, was started as soon as Ssegirinya ran to enter her car. At the time, she says, she drove off as the double cabin car chased them for a while until when it blocked them.
“The security personnel dressed in black uniforms and armed with guns would then pull Ssegirinya out of my car and took him away. We tried to inquire about where he was being taken and the crimes against him but they were too harsh to respond,” Malende explains.
SoftPower News could not independently verify Shamim Malende’s narration. Our efforts to speak to the Prisons’ spokesperson, CP Frank Baine were futile since his known telephone number was out of reach by press time.
What does the Police say?
The Police Spokesperson, CP Fred Enanga has in a statement confirmed Ssegirinya’s rearrest. He says the legislator has been arrested by joint security task team of investigators on fresh charges of treason and incitement to violence.
“We want to inform the public that Hon Ssegirinya Mohammad has also been rearrested on fresh charges of treason and incitement to violence by the joint security task team of investigators,” CP Enanga said.
He says Ssegirinya since been transferred to the Special Investigations Division, in Kireka for further statement recording and action.
President Yoweri Museveni’s view on bail for murder suspects
Last week, President Museveni expressed displeased with courts for giving bail to suspects accused of capital offences.
The President who was speaking at the swearing in of new judges on Wednesday, said bail is not a constitutional right.
“It is abominable. I would like us to cure this ideological disagreement. This bail, what is the hurry? Who are you trying to please? Who said bail is a right?…. I am going to summon the NRM caucus and if necessary, we put it to a referendum. With this provocation, people will take the law into their hands,” Museveni said.
But according to Malende, it is a constitutional right for suspects to get bail and any effort to block it violates both the laws of Uganda and the international protocols regarding presumption of innocence to which the country is a signatory.
“Bail does not mean that the cases have been dropped. He or she remains a suspect and keeps reporting to court as investigations are ongoing.
She says the rearrest of the two MPs is regrettable because it violates the rule of law and as well undermines the decision of Court. She says whereas, security has the right to rearrest any person on fresh charges, they should follow the law in effecting it not treating suspects as thought they are guilty already.