A top lawyer has called for calm in the money laundering case against Nicholas Opiyo, saying the matter will be resolved by courts of law.
“My colleague Nicholas Opiyo, being a lawyer knows that the law must be followed. He has been charged in accordance with the law and will defend himself,” said lawyer Kiryowa Kiwanuka on Christmas Day.
“None of his rights have been violated as has been reported in the media. He was treated well and has seen his lawyers and family,” he added.
Opiyo was earlier this week picked by security services from a restaurant in Kamwokya, Kampala, alongside other lawyers of opposition National Unity Platform (NUP).
He was later charged before Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court with ‘money laundering and neglect to submit annual returns to the NGO Bureau’ before being remanded till December 28, 2020.
Prosecution alleges that Opiyo, on October 8th, 2020, at ABSA Bank at Garden City, acquired USD 340,000 through an account number 6004078045 in the names of Chapter Four Uganda, knowing that the funds were proceeds of crime.
The arrest and charges have attracted condemnation from United States politicians with several of them calling for his release.
U.S Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo “called on the Ugandan authorities to ensure an environment where civil society can undertake election training and monitoring.”
Pompeo emphasised: “Recent restrictions on NGO election activities and intimidation of human rights advocates undermine such an environment.”
However, lawyer Kiryowa today took to Twitter where the #FreeOpiyo hashtag has been trending to emphasize that legal issues are not resolved in courts of law.
“He has counsel and matters cannot be resolved on social media. To say #FreeOpio without allowing the state to try him if there is a case is counterproductive,” said Kiryowa.
He further said the idea that a person who is “opposed to government view” is entitled to “operate outside the law” is wrong.
“Let us all allow the police to do it’s work. For the police not to charge a person who is believed to have committed an offence would be an abdication of duty,” said Kiryowa.
Opiyo is being represented by lawyer David Mpanga.
“My friend @dfkm1970 (Mpanga) is a very good lawyer so Nicholas is in good hands. Let’s wait for the evidence against the accused and if they are indeed trumped up the court will dismiss the case,” said Kiryowa.