BY SARAH NALUKENGE VIA UAH FACEBOOK GROUP
Uganda’s military dictator, Museveni has once again raided courts of law in a wider scheme coerce judicial officers into submission as a judicial arm of his regime. Unlike the Police and Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) which he has fully incorporated into his dictatorial regime, the judiciary still has some pockets of judicial officers who are determined to act professionally. Like in any other African dictatorship, the Museveni dictatorship treats members of the legal fraternity are as enemies of the state simply because they ‘undermine’ his schemes of manipulating the the rule of law. Like has been the case with Journalists, the legal fraternity under Museveni has borne the brunt of the military dictator.
The name Black Mamba was coined by the members of the public following a nasty incident in November 2005 when Museveni deployed hooded commandos donning black T/shirts and wielding Israel made Macro Garill machine guns raided the High Court to reverse a court order. These were commando soldiers under CMI who had been trained and armed by Israel retired army officers. It was on November 16th, 2005 when the High Court of Uganda granted bail to 14 civilians whom the Museveni regime had been accusing of treason in connection with the shadow PRA rebel group and linking them to opposition leader, Dr. Besigye. Before the suspects could regain their freedom, these heavily armed commandos besieged the High Court premises taking hostage all the top brass of the third arm of the state (judiciary), the suspects, their relatives and friends and other innocent people. The commandos forcefully arrested the 14 suspects and whisked them away before slamming terrorism charges on them before the General Court Martial the following day and remanded. The act received condemnation from all corners of the globe with the donor community cutting some aid. Later in Jan 2006 the the Constitutional Court ruled that the continued trial of the 14 suspects in the military court martial was illegal and ordered for their release but Museveni simply ignored the ruling and continued to hold the suspects in detention. The matter came to pass and it did not take long for Museveni to arrange another raid a year later.
On March 1, 2007, Museveni deployed about 50 plain clothed security officers who raided the same High Court and rearrested five men whom court had just granted bail after they had spent 15 months on remand. During the scuffle, Lawyers, Journalists relatives of suspects and top judicial officers were subjected to a scuffle that left Advocate Kiyemba Mutale seriously assaulted by a senior police officer. The siege ended at around 8.30 p.m when the five victims attempted to leave the court premises in the company of the Deputy Chief Justice and the Principal Judge were brutally arrested them. They were taken to Bushenyi and Arua and charged with Murder. All the top Judicial officers condemned the act before they together with the lawyers went on strike for one week. The Minister of Internal Affairs, then Hon Rugunda described the strike as “an unwarranted decision” before adding that the government was investigating the matter and that appropriate action was to be taken after the results. Like had been the case with the 2005 raid by the Black Mambas, this incident was swept under the carpet and no one was made to account.
In July 2013, former Coordinator of Intelligence services, Gen. David Ssejusa while appearing on VOA told the world that the 2005 invasion of the High Court could not have occurred without the express authority and instructions of the highest office (Museveni). The then Chief Justice, Benjamin Odoki in an interview with The Daily Monitor said that “…….if I had been in the country, the situation would have been different. The precincts of the court are sanctified, they are sacred. Its like an embassy, you don’t go to the American Embassy and arrest anybody”.
On 9th July 2016, Museveni deployed unruly youthful urban goons to attack the second arm of government (parliament) in protest against the summoning of his police chief by the parliamentary committee on Defense and Internal Affairs. As they fiercely fought with a rival faction, the brutal police which is usually brutal against other protesters just looked on because the goons had the express authority and instructions of the highest office (Museveni). The incident was swept under the carpet and the following day Museveni organized, facilitated and deployed more goons to attack the Chief Magistrates Court at Makindye. The court was scheduled to hear a matter where Museveni’s Police chief was accused of torturing citizens and he refused to appear in court but instead he implemented Museveni’s instructions of sending goons to terrorize the trial Magistrate and advocates. The goons threatened to lynch the advocates who had taken refuge in the Chief Magistrate and had to only be evacuated by the riot police in anti riot police cars amidst manhandling by the goons leaving their personal cars behind. One Advocate who dared to escape using his personal car had his car stoned and damaged by the same goons. The police just looked on and no such goon has been arrested. The Police issued a statement commending those goons for abiding by the law “The Uganda Police Force appreciates the fact that the group of demonstrators at the Grade I Magistrates’ Court in Makindye today complied with the requirement of the Public Order Management Act (S.5) of notifying the police so as to obtain guidance and security during the demonstration.” The Chief Justice has condemned the raid on Makindye Court “…..whoever is mobilizing supporters to come and disrupt court proceedings should stop”. The Uganda Law Society has also condemned the act and threatened to compile a list of those who are torturing citizens into the book of shame before calling for an expeditious inquiry into the siege of Makindye court. This was the best statement Museveni
Whatever the case, Museveni has realized that Ugandans are hopeless, helpless and toothless and can therefore do any mischief with impunity in pursuit of his hold on power. Fellow country men and women just prepare for more serious mischief as the officers of court prepares more sweet statements.