Jailed city lawyer Male Mabirizi has asked the Constitutional Court to order Uganda Prisons Services to produce the Kawempe North Member of Parliament, Mr Muhammad Ssegirinya, and his Makindye West counterpart, Mr Allan Ssewanyana for the hearing seeking to quash criminal charges against them.
The city lawyer made the request on Monday while appearing before the Constitutional Court Registrar, Henry Twinomuhwezi for the pretrial hearing of his suit in which, he sued the Attorney General for slapping additional charges against the legislators’ moments after being released on bail last year.
Police re-arrested the two legislators on September 7, 2021 in Masaka District shortly after securing bail from the chief magistrate’s court. They were slapped with additional charges of terrorism, aiding and abetting terrorism, murder, and attempted murder, and remanded to Kigo Prison.
The charges stem from their alleged involvement in the Greater Masaka Region machete killings, which claimed the lives of more than 20 people between July and September 2021. On September 21, 2021 court granted them bail of Shs 20m before the state slapped with them an additional charge of murdering Joseph Bwanika eight days later.
As a result, Mabirizi petitioned the Constitutional Court in the same month, arguing that the additional charges brought on a different criminal file amount to political persecution, which is unjustifiable in a free and democratic society and therefore unconstitutional.
According to Mabirizi, the additional charges deprived Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya of Shs 20 million, which should not have been the case, had the state presented an amended charge sheet.
He argued that the state actions made it hard for the legislators to get effective representation from a lawyer of their choice at their own expense and it required them to make new bail applications on offenses alleged to have been committed within the same period and area.
When the matter came up on Monday for conferencing, Mr Mabirizi asked the Registrar to issue a production warrant to enable Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya to attend proceedings since the petition concerns them despite the fact that they are not parties to the suit.
“The gist of the petition under paragraph one is challenging the continued imprisonment of Hon Allan Ssewanyana and Hon Muhammad Ssegirinya despite being granted bail by the High Court. Application 26 which arises from this petition says that the honourable members be released temporarily,” he said.
The State Attorney, Ms Lydia Mugisha, objected to the issuance of the production warrant on grounds that Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya are not parties to the case and that the petition raises constitutional questions, which the Justices will look into.
In his response, Mr Twinomuhwezi said he would ask the head of the panel of the constitutional court justices, Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, for guidance on the matter.
Mabirizi was a freeman at the time of filing his petition until February 15, 2022 when he was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 18 months in jail.
The Court has set June 16, 2022 to hear the application.