Lord Mayor, Pr. Ngabo Charged  Over Defiance Campaign, Released on Bail

Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago speaking to press upon release

Makindye Grade one Magistrate Benson Semondo has charged 28 people including Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, pharm renowned pastor Happy Ngabo and Makerere University’s Dr. Stella Nyanzi of disobeying lawful orders in connection to the defiance campaign, before releasing them on bail.

The group was on Tuesday arrested at the Forum for Democratic Change headquarters in Najjanankumbi where they had gone to attend the weekly party prayers as part of the activities entailed in the defiance campaign, which banned by the constitutional court last week.

On Tuesday afternoon, Grade One Magistrate  Benson Semondo  informed the  suspects that  they  are accused of disobeying   Constitutional Court orders issued by the Deputy Chief jutstice Steven Kavuma last week, centrally to section 117 of the Penal Code Act.

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The accused denied the charges.

The accused through a team of 8 lawyers led by Medard Sseggona and Asuman Basaalirwa asked court to temporarily release them because it was their right, whereas others had been injured during their arrest and needed to get medical attention.

“The charges against the accused are not grave that carry a maximum of 2 years imprisonment on conviction .The offences don’t involve use of violence,” Sseggona told court.

He argued that the accused had not been allowed to see their lawyers and relatives while in custody adding that they need to get time with them.

The defense lawyers presented 2 people to stand surety for each of the accused persons.

However, in response, the prosecution side led by Senior State Attorney Happiness Ainebyona told court  that they needed time to be able to clearly  peruse through the identifications of the sureties presented.

The accused, in court today

The accused, in court today

“We ask court for an adjournment before responding to the defense lawyers,” Ainebyona submitted.

In his ruling, the Magistrate stated that despite the bail being a constitutional right; it his discretion to determine who to be granted.

“I have considered the gravity of the offence and the fact that inquiries into the matter being concluded to grant non cash bails of  Shs 5 million and 20 million to each of the accused and sureties respectively, “the Grade one Magistrate ordered.

He then set May 18 as the date for hearing of the case to kickoff.

Addressing journalists after release, Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago said he will not adhere to the Constitutional Court order stopping them from attending the weekly prayers which he said are lawful.

“I respect the Deputy Chief Justice but I will not respect his orders in regard to the weekly prayers, “he vowed.

The Constitutional Court on Friday evening banned all FDC activities including among others the weekly prayers that were categorized as being  part of the defiance campaign started by the party’s former  presidential candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye.

Addressing journalists on Monday ,the Inspector General of Police, Gen.Kale Kayihura warned  FDC party officials that  they ought to respect the orders as issued by court adding that anyone aggrieved by the order should seek redress from a higher court.

The police chief warned that worshipping is not an absolute right according to the Constitution.

“The right to worship is not entrenched in the constitution as being absolute.  It is like any other form of right. The FDC weekly prayers are a way of mobilising people to demonstrate and these were last week banned  by court,” Gen.Kayihura said.




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