City lawyer, Male Mabirizi Kiwanuka, has blasted President Museveni for directing Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to deny embattled Labour Minister Mwesigwa Rukutana bail.
Rukutana was last week arrested, detained and charged with several offences over political violence in his hometown of Rushenyi, Ntungamo District.
The Minister, who said he grabbed a gun from his guard to protect himself from a group of men who attacked his family, was denied bond by police.
When he appeared in Ntungamo Court earlier this week, the former Attorney General was also not granted bail even after his lawyers presented several ‘substantial’ sureties.
In a statement, Museveni said he didn’t hope Rukutana would get bail.
“In the case of the Rukutanas, the Police did not give Police bond because, according to the Police, the evidence is clear and they should go for trial. I hope the DPP will also oppose bail,” said Museveni, adding, “The image of impunity is not acceptable.”
This development has since split public opinion with critics saying he deserves more time behind bars over his conduct.
However, lawyer Mabirizi warned that denying Rukutana bail on orders of President Museveni would set a very dangerous precedent.
“When you cheer Museveni stating how he ordered police (which under article 213 (1) is not under his command) not to give Rukutana bond because the evidence was overwhelming, ordering the DPP (who under article 120(6) of the Constitution is supposed to be independent) to object to Rukutana’s bail which she also did and ordering Courts (which under article 128(1 & ) of the Constitution are supposed to be independent) not to grant him bail, you are falling in his trap of deviating from Rule of Law and Democracy,” said Mabirizi.
“Yes, many of you are now saying that “Rukutana deserves it” but kindly pose a bit and read what Kenya’s Chief Justice David Maraga and three of his colleagues stated in 2017 Kenya election nullification case that “…the rule of law “is the heritage of all mankind” and “a salutary reminder that ‘wherever law ends, tyranny begins…“…even the best rulers have fallen prey to the cruel desires of naked power, and that reliance on the goodwill of politicians is often a risky act of good faith.” The moment we ignore our Constitution….we lose it,’” added Mabirizi.
“Museveni has made it possible to command independent organs because Ugandans, Parliament and Courts have given him a lee way to deviate from Constitutional imperatives and illegally filled such positions with people who have not went through the legal process.”
During Rukutana’s bail application hearing, the state attorney said they needed more time to complete investigations into the Rushenyi violence.
The state further alleged that if freed, Rukutana would use his influence to undermine the investigations.
But Mabirizi said Rukutana, being one of those who “perpetuated destruction of independent institutions to his and group’s benefit for the time he has served Museveni, would, to a short-sighted person be left to suffer but me as a long-sighted civically active Ugandan, protecting Rukutana is more rewarding to the Country as a whole….”
Mabirizi challenged police chiefs Okoth Ochola and Grace Akullo to “tell us whether the police is under their command. How could they cancel Rukutana’s Police bond, a minister and a man of above 60 years yet police bonds are on a daily basis granted to younger and less profile persons?”
He added: “Abodo (DPP) must tell us how independent she is from Museveni in objecting to bail of a man of above 60 years, a minister, a senior lawyer and former Deputy Attorney General when she did not object to the bail application of Luttamaguzi Ssemakula who is below 50 years of age and a back-bencher Member of Parliament.”
The controversial lawyer also piled pressure on the Ntungamo Chief Magistrate to explain how “independent and competent she is from Museveni if it takes her a full week to write a bail ruling which under the law the application itself is supposed to be oral and such rulings are normally written from Court after presentation of sureties.”