The General Court Martial in Makindye has dismissed an application by 31 supporters of the National Unity Platform (NUP) to be released on bail pending determination of the case in which they are accused of illegal possession of ammunition.
The accused persons are:
Yasin Ssekitoleko alias Machete, Robert Christopher Rugumayo, Ronald Mayiga, Patrick Mwase, Simon Kijambo , Olivia Lutaaya , Abdu Matovu, Richard Nyombi, Olivia Lutaaya, Ronald Kijambo, Sharif Kalanzi, Joseph Muwonge, Mesach Kiwanuka, Abdalla Kintu, Umar Emma Kato and Musa Kavuma.
Others are Ibrahim Wandera, Asbert Nagwere, Steven Musakulu, Jimmy Galukande, Paul Muwanguzi, Kenneth Kamanya, Sharif Matovu, Shafiq Ngobi, Davis Mafabi, Abdallah Hakim Gibusiwa, Livingstone Katushabe Kigozi, Obalai Siraji Mudebo, Joseph Muganza and Stanley Lwanga.
The group is accused of having been found in illegal possession of 13 pieces of explosive devices which are ordinarily the monopoly of the defense forces.
It is alleged that the crime was committed between November 2020 and May 2021 in areas of Jinja, Mbale, Kireka, Nakulabye, Kawempe, Natete and Kampala Central.
The group in January 2022 during the tenure of the then Chairperson of the Court Martial Lt General Andrew Gutti applied to be released on bail arguing that the charges against them are bailable by the Court Martial and that they have substantial sureties who included their spouses, relatives and parents.
They argued that they do not have capacity to interfere with state witnesses and investigations and that there is a likelihood that their trial was going to take long since they have spent more than a year in prison but only one Prosecution witness has testified against them.
The bail application hearing dragged on until last month when the new Chairperson Brigadier Robert Freeman Mugabe presided over the further hearing of the matter.
In the hearing , the Prosecutors led by Lt Gift Mubehamwe asked the Court to deny bail to the accused persons saying that some of their sureties had no proper documents to identify them and that they could not ably identify the accused persons they had come to stand surety for.
Mubehamwe who relied on an affidavit of one of the investigators Lt Elly Musinguzi further noted that granting bail to such people would make it difficult for the Prosecution to trace them when needed and therefore they would abscond from trial. He also indicated that the applicants did not have fixed places of abode within the jurisdiction of the military court and that they are likely to interfere with prosecution witnesses because they were well known to them.
In his ruling on Tuesday Brigadier Mugabe has partly agreed with the Prosecutors and dismissed the application on grounds that the offense under which the accused persons are charged is serious in nature and that they did not have substantial sureties.
Chairperson Mugabe has however not explained how unsubstantial the sureties were. A substantial surety is always considered as a person who is above 18 years of age, has a good relationship with an accused, has a valid National Identification Card and is capable of compelling that accused to return for trial whenever needed by Court.
But the sureties whom Court has found not to be substantial had during the hearing presented the documents required and they included relatives, spouses and parents of the accused persons.
The Court has also dismissed the application for bail saying the accused persons do not have permanent places of abode within the jurisdiction of the military Court.
The suspects have now been further remanded to Kitalya, Luzira and Kigo Prisons until such a time when the Registrar of the Court Martial Col John Bizimama fixes their main case for hearing.
Their lawyer Benjamin Katana has told Uganda Radio Network that their next step is to talk to the accused persons and their relatives and see if they can make a second attempt for bail.
Shortly after the Court decision, the relatives of the accused persons were emotional and asked President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to forgive their children saying that his son made a single tweet recently but he also apologized and his apologies were accepted allegedly by the public.
Due to extreme anger and tears that were rolling down the cheeks of some of the relatives, the military Police armed with pistols and batons gently sent them away from the court stairs to the Compound to avoid making noise for other court users. The relatives still went away protesting the Court decision.
Trouble for the accused persons started when Uganda Police Force accused them of plotting to carry out petrol bomb attacks targeting government vehicles and buildings in various places in the country.
Police claimed that the suspects masterminded attacks on Kasubi Royal Tombs, on former Jinja Resident City Commissioner Eric Sakwa in Nakulabye, on Uganda Registration Services Bureau and on Katwe police station among others.
As a result, they were arrested by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence operatives and brought to Court Martial to face justice.