April 20, 2020 at 7:53 pm #204682
On 18/3/2020, Lt. Gen Henry Tumukunde was remanded to Luzira Prisons pending his committal to the High court of Uganda for trial. He is charged with two serious offenses i.e, (1) Treason contrary to Section 23(2)b of the Penal Code Act Cap 120 (Laws of Uganda), and (2) Unlawful possession of Firearms contrary to section 3(11) of the firearms Act.
A few days after he was remanded to Luzira prisons, Lt. Gen Henry Tumukunde filed an application for bail. The application was mounted under Articles 23(6) and 28(3) of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda.
To support his bail application, Lt. Gen. Tumukunde presented a total of 4 (four) sureties including his wife and his biological brother. He also presented Lady Salamu Musumba, another re-known political figure, democrat and intellectual. The fourth surety was Maj. Gen. Gregory Mugisha Muntu; a historical bush war combatant; retired General of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF); former Chief of Defense Forces (previously known as Army Commander) of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces; a well-known opposition figure; a staunch democrat; and a leader of a Political Organisation in Uganda.
On 14/4/2020, Justice JW. Kwesiga a judge of the High Court of Uganda and the head of the Criminal Division of the Kampala circuit of the High Court of Uganda delivered a widely televised decision/ruling. The although it was widely expected that Tumukunde would be denied bail due to his souring relationship with his powerful mentor H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, a historical bush war combatant; retired four-star General of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF); the Perennial President of Uganda and the reigning Commander-In-Chief of the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) whose influence transcends all institutions of the state.
The ruling surprised all reasonable legal scholars in Uganda, not because Tumukunde was denied bail, but because of the weird and somehow reckless considerations made by the presiding judge, Justice JW. Kwesiga. In the result, the ruling has become globally controversial and received wide spread condemnation in both the scholarly and political circles.
In particular, the presiding Judge surprisingly found that none of the sureties presented was substantial enough to serve in office of surety for Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde. Save for the fact that none of the sureties presented is a Serving General of the UPDF (which is generally gathered from the ruling), the judge did not provide any reason(s) or basis for finding that the sureties were not substantial.
The Judge took the view that since investigations are incomplete, presumably due to the nationwide COVID-19 management restrictions, he could not deny bail to Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde but rather delay his release from prison until at least 30(thirty) days from the date when the state shall lift the nationwide COVID-19 management restrictions.
This position of the judge means that from the date when the COVID-19 guidelines shall be lifted, Tumukunde must remain in prison for at least a further 30 (thirty) days to allow the police detectives to collect the remaining prosecution evidence. The judge did not indicate what evidence will be collected and how the release of Tumukunde would impede the collection of that evidence.
From the ruling, one gathers that even 30(thirty) days from the unknown date when the state shall lift the nationwide COVID-19 management restrictions, the judge will not be sitting to grant bail to Lt. Gen. Tumukunde, but rather, to reconsider his bail application. Which means that he may still deny him bail.
In the most curious way, the judge went further to demand that if Lt. Gen. Tumukunde wishes to be granted bail, he should present at least two serving army Generals of the UPDF, each being “three-star” or “four-star”, and holding introduction letters from the Chief of the Defense Forces (CDF) of the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (CDF).
In essence, Gen. Henry Tumukunde remains in Prison for an indefinite period of time; and even if the COVID-19 guidelines are lifted, he cannot acquire bail Unless he presents at least two serving army Generals of the UPDF, each being “three-star” or “four-star”, and holding introduction letters from the Chief of the Defense Forces (CDF) of the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (CDF).
In view of the subsisting laws of Uganda applicable to bail applications which I extensively discussed in my 9th edition of my Lockdown Series, I shall now discuss the reasonableness and propriety of the judge’s decisions.
In an application for bail, the presiding Judicial Officer either grants the bail or denies it. The applicant either wins (and is granted bail), or he loses (and is remanded); and there is no draw! Bail may be granted contingent upon certain conditions imposed on the accused person.
For example, where a person is granted a cash bond, his release is contingent upon paying the bond cash to the coffers of court and furnishing evidence of payment to court. When payment is made, an order of release is made by the court without any further hearing. Also bail may be granted upon a condition that the accused person deposits certain things to court such as his/her National Passport. In practice, this is called “contingent bail”.
At the conclusion of the application for bail, the accused must know whether she/he has been granted bail or not. If the bail is denied, the court must say so and specifically communicate to the accused person the reasons why such bail was denied. This helps the accused person to know what to do next in order to present a fresh application for bail.
Where a court of law grants bail to an accused person, it must clearly specify the conditions upon which the bail is granted. This is because, those conditions are very important not only to secure his release from detention but to also provide sufficient clarity on how the accused person shall live until his case is concluded.
In the determination of a bail application, clarity of the conditions is of fundament essence. To an accused person, bail terms are to him what a life jacket is to a sailor. They define the boundary between freedom and prison. That’s is why the law requires that bail terms must be reasonable, and reasonably attainable by the accused person.
Having said the above, I wish to quickly interrogate whether the ruling delivered by Justice JW. Kwesiga on 14/4/2020 discloses any particular ruling of the court; and if so if so whether that ruling reflects a judicious exercise of discretion.
No verifiable out-come in the application;
As a lawyer, the first strange thing I realize about Gen. Tumukunde’s bail ruling is that it is coined in very poor English; and is not clear whether the presiding judge granted or denied him bail. In fact, after reading the full length of the ruling, it would not be far-fetched for any one to say that the judge “granted” Tumukunde bail but kept him in prison! I shall, forthwith, explain my contention.
At Pages 3-4 of the ruling, the judge stated as follows;
“…I have considered provisions of section 15(4) TIA and I am satisfied that the applicant has a fixed place of abode at Kololo Kampala which is within the jurisdiction of this court and given that he is of advanced age he qualified to be granted bail depending on the outcomes of the state objections…”
The most striking thing is that the judge stated as above but kept Tumukunde in jail. At law, one can never qualify for bail unless and until the objections of the state have been considered! The Lawyer’s question is; how did the Hon. Judge reach a decision that the applicant (Tumukunde) qualified for bail if indeed he had not yet considered the outcomes of the state objections?
Saying that a person has qualified for bail before you consider the state objections is a grave contradiction. If, as clearly stated in the ruling, the Applicant qualified for bail on the ground of his proven place of abode and advanced age of 61(sixty one) years, the judge ought to have forthwith granted him bail!
There is another contradiction! During the hearing of the bail application, the state argued that the cases were complex; investigations were still at an early stage; and that granting bail to the Applicant would hinder the success of investigations.
The judge frantically overruled this objection and, at Page 5 of the ruling, stated as follows;
“…In my view, incomplete state investigation is not a bar to granting of bail. I therefore reject the contention. It is a bad practice to arrest, remand and take time to investigate…”
However, at Page 6 of the same ruling, the presiding judge contradicted himself and kept Tumukunde in jail on ground that investigations were incomplete; and or that the police detectives still had “uncollected evidence”. The judge stated as follows;
“…..for the protection of the state evidence yet to be collected, the solution is not to reject releasing the applicant on bail but to delay the release for a reasonable time due to prevailing national precautions that stopped movement of persons to prevent possible regrettable health occurrence…”
The lawyer’s question is; if “incomplete investigation” is not a bar to the grant of bail to an accused person, what is the justification for keeping Tumukunde in prison for a further minimum period of 2(two) months? Is it not a cardinal principle of law that “justice delayed is justice denied”?
Also the judge made a very outrageous remark. At pages 6 and 7 of the ruling, he stated as follows;
“….Given the national precautions which include restrictions against movements and contacts of people to reduce risks of spread of COVID-A9 virus, I find that there is a justifiable delay in completing the investigations at the desirable speed. The above conditions justify allowing the state reasonable time of one month from the date when the nationwide lock down will be uplifted to obtain all the evidence as required before the release of the accused on bail…”
First of all, the judge referred to “COVID-A9” which is not yet known in circles of medical science! I however assume that this was a typographical error; and that the judge only intended to write “COVID-19‘. However, I hasten to say that, unless and until it is clarified and confirmed, this remains an assumption and the ruling must be read as it appears.
Secondly, by using the phrase “…when the nationwide lock down will be uplifted…”, the judge complicated his ruling, since the only meaning that can be derived therefrom is that the judge expects that the purpose of “collecting the remaining evidence” shall be facilitated when the lock-down is “increased”.
This also does not make sense; unless of-course one assumes that the judge intended to write, “…when the nationwide lock down will be lifted… ”; and that he only made a typographical error.
Assuming that issues raised above were mere “typographical errors” made by the judge; and that my assumptions (above) are what the judge intended to write, the lawyer’s question which arises is; can justice JW. Kwesiga say exactly when the state shall lift the COVID-19 restrictions so as to know when Tumukunde will be eligible for the reconsideration of his bail application? Is it not speculative for the judge to assume that the COVID-19 lockdown will be lifted tomorrow or any other day?
Some countries are projecting the year 2022 as the time when the COVID-19 restrictions on social distancing shall possibly be eased. Does the judge mean to say that there shall be no criminal investigations, in any case, unless and until the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted?
Another question that arises from the above statement is; what is the difference between “denying someone bail” and “delaying his release from remand”; especially where the release is delayed for clearly an indefinite period; on flimsy and speculative grounds; and in any case for an aggregated period of more than 3(three) months?
More curiously, the judge indicated that he would “reconsider” the bail application at a later date, presumably somewhere, 30(thirty) days after the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted by the state. This is at Page 8, of his ruling where he stated that;
“….In view of the above, the application for bail in this matter shall be reconsidered in future; (a)When circumstances stated above have changed; (b)When the applicant furnishes court with appropriate sureties…”
At law, this is very problematic.
First of all, by disposing off the application, the judge effectively became Functus Oficio; and cannot purport to re-open the same application on a later date. It is therefore legally disturbing how the Hon. Judge hopes to re-open the bail application and reconsider it.
By law, the Hon. Justice J.W. Kwesiga can only reconsider Tumukunde’s bail on a fresh application for bail. Yes. The law permits successive bail applications before the same court; but a judge has no power to order an accused person to file a fresh application for bail when one is denied. He must wait for a fresh application to be filed at the instance of the accused person.
I shall be eagerly waiting to see the procedure that the Honorable Judge shall invoke to re-open and “reconsider” the bail application, at a future date of his choice In view of all the above, it is not clear whether the judge disposed of Tumukunde’s application or not; because, quite clearly, there is no final decision.
SUBSTANTIALITY OF SURETIES;
Substantiality of sureties;
When it came to the issue of substantiality of sureties, the judge’s appreciation of the law and facts presented before him became very problematic.
When the judge sought to re-state the principle of law with regard to what constitutes a substantial surety, he narrowly nailed the point. Somehow, the judge correctly restated part of the legal test of substantiality of a surety. At page 7 of his ruling, the judge stated that;
“I wish to resolve the issue of what constitutes substantial sureties in this case. In my view, in all cases whether a surety is substantial or not depends on the unique circumstances of each case. The most important consideration should be whether the surety has the ability to prevail over control and where necessary compel the accused to abide by the terms and condition of bail. This calls for a person with proven influence or authority over the accused.”
However, when it came to the application of the principles, the Hon. Justice of the High Court of Uganda miserably failed the task; both in law, in fact and in common sense.
In his considered reasoning, the Hon. Justice J.W. Kwesiga seems to understand and or perceive “substantiality of sureties” through very narrow lenses. He only thinks that a substantial surety is only one that has the capacity or means to exert physical force and physically drag the accused to court. This is not the correct interpretation of the law.
It has never been the position of law that a surety is only substantial if he/she has the energy or means to physically engage the accused and drag him to court. The substantiality of sureties has nothing to do with their physical strength or possession of coercive means; and this is where a judicial officer is required to be extremely careful, intellectually balanced, reasonable and sober.
First and foremost, substantiality of a surety is about the person’s ability to physically trace the accused. This means that at any given time when the accused is supposed to appear in court for trial, the surety would be able to know his physical locations, trace him and cause him to appear in court.
In the event that the accused refuses to appear in court when required, the surety would have the task to lead police so that he is apprehended and or dragged to court for trial. Therefore, the first arm of this is whether or not a person presented as a surety is one with capacity to fully know the physical whereabouts of the accused; and this has nothing to do with the strength of his muscles or his means of coercion.
The second arm of the substantiality test is the surety’s capacity to personally cause the accused to appear in court for trail. This capacity is both “direct” and “constructive”.
The “direct test” of substantiality of a surety is the one perceived by J.W. Kwesiga, i.e. where the surety physically engages the accused person and lifts or drags him/her to a court of law.
By far, this is the most primitive test of substantiality and is often ineffective. Presenting two serving army officers or body builders (Kanyamas) as sureties is not an assurance that they will present the accused in court when required.
If there is no personal attachment to the safety of the sureties, the accused person can even leave jurisdiction and escape justice. He has nothing to lose! These muscle builders will have no knowledge of his whereabouts and will be out of physical reach of the accused.
The “constructive test” of substantiality operates through relations and is by far the most powerful test of substantiality of a surety. For example, a spouse of an accused person or a biological parent, sibling, or issue of an accused person is an inherently substantial surety for the accused person; of-course unless the spouse, parent, sibling or issue of the accused person doubles as the complainant.
Disregard of bail conditions puts sureties at the wrath of the court. Therefore, where the surety is the accused person’s loved one, an accused person is compelled to abide by the bail terms for the fear of putting his/her loved ones in trouble. The statistics will show that 9(nine) of every 10(ten) persons whose sureties are close relatives positively respond to bail and appear for their trial.
Therefore, thinking that soldiers are the only potential sureties for soldiers is simplistic. It is even dangerous if such reasoning comes from an Honorable Justice of a Superior Court such as the High Court of Uganda. A thinking that its only physical coercion that compels accused persons to appear for trial is a manifestation of a lack of a good grasp of the law relating to bail and sureties.
In-fact, some people will even respond to bail even when there are no sureties; and that’s why the law allows a court of law, on its own recognizance, to grant bail to any fitting accused persons even without sureties.
What is important is that the court of law objectively assesses the particular bail applicant, in his own right, and makes a reasonable decision on granting him/her bail. The test is an objective one, not a subjective one.
Having said the above, it is quite obvious that in the case of Lt. General Henry Tumukunde, Justice J.W. Kwesiga flatly misconstrued the “substantiality test of sureties” to the extent that he suggested that a surety is only substantial if he can directly engage the accused in physical terms and drag him to court for trial.
I shall herein later discuss this matter in detail when commenting on the judge’s wayward instruction that Lt. Gen. Tumukunde presents serving solders of his rank or higher ranks as sureties. I shall now subject the reasoning of the judge to a microscope.
Tumukunde’s military status;
It is common practice for legal practitioners to demonstrate to court that applicants for bail are substantial persons in society. We do this, not to scare or intimidate courts, but to demonstrate that the bail applicants are responsible citizens with reputations to protect, and with something to lose, in case they disobey bail conditions.
The demonstration of the social status of the bail applicant is done to show court that the person before it is a reasonable person not likely to jump bond. We do this to inform court that the person before it is not an ordinary chicken thief with nothing to lose.
The Attorneys for General Tumukunde did exactly what they had to do; and it is interesting that rather than find that the Applicant’s impressive social profile served well to give him the benefit of bail, the judge was visibly scared. At page 7 the of the ruling, the judge stated as follows;
“…In the case at hand, the applicant is a military general of UPDF, though retired. The application portrayed a man with a high profile and substantial influence. Under our criminal justice system, a good example exists where a retired military general has defied court summons. This is an embarrassment that that ought to be avoided..”
Clearly the judge was intimidated by the social and professional profile and accomplishments of the applicant and turned it against him. No matter how it is read, this is a statement of bias and vindictiveness towards Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde.
Visibly, from the beginning, the judge approached the bail Applicant with fear and bias; and reached an erroneous ruling. The judge approached the case with a pre-conceived attitude borne of his military profession; and failed in his judicial duty to properly consider the bail application on its own merit. This was illegal and unconstitutional
Enter the Indiscipline of Maj. Gen. Matayo Kyaligonza;
It is also clear that the bail application of Rtd. Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde was not decided on its own merit; but through the mirror of the indiscipline of another Retired Military General, Maj. Gen. Matayo Kyaligonza.
Specifically, Tumukunde was not assessed on his own character and antecedents; but rather on the bad example of Rtd. Maj. General Matayo Kyaligonza who recently disrespected court SUMMONS. This was not a fair exercise of judicial discretion.
The judicial discretion given to the judge requires that he/she takes a reasonable effort to assess each case on it own merit without being unduly influenced by extraneous matters.
If the judge was apprehensive of military uniform and desired to have an opportunity to squeeze one of them and send a tough message to others, he need to wait for the right opportunity, on the right candidate and in the right circumstances.
In this case, the judge was only mandated to consider a bail application through the parameters of settled legal principles; and this required him to exhibit the highest degree of reasonableness and impartiality; not the bias and apprehension that is visible through the gaps of his judicial fingers.
If the judge desired to assess the conduct of military officers with regard to court bail, he was not short of proper and convincing examples. The nation has great examples of military generals, serving and retired, who have consistently abided by court orders.
By far, Rtd. Col. Dr. Kiiza Besigye is the most arrested person in the history of Uganda. He has been granted bail on various occasions and he has never jumped bail. Some other influential Generals of the UPDF have exhibited a very good example of discipline and obedience of court orders.
Therefore, the Hon. Judge had many examples of honorable Generals of the UPDF that have good records of obeying the authority of court. In particular, General David Tinyefuza (Sejusa), a four-star General of the UPDF, has been very exemplary in obeying the authority of court with regard to bail.
By all necessary standards, the members of the UPDF who have been granted bail by courts of law have been exemplary, and none is on record to have ever jumped bail. Therefore, one wonders why the judge chose an isolated example of a misbehaving Military General (Gen. Matayo Kyaligonza) to generally disparage the character of all UPDF Generals.
This path is a terrible attempt to malign the UPDF as an institution; and is flatly erroneous. Quite to the contrary, the UPDF is a largely civilized and disciplined institution and the Hon. Judge could have done better than project them as badly as he did. Moreover, the judge’s gesture sets a bad example and washes away the possibility and need for retired army officers and men to be freely integrated in civilian life and be judged on their personal character.
Even then, the circumstances of Matayo Kyaligonza are not comparable to those of Henry Tumukunde; and I dare strike a discrepancy between them.
First of all, Matayo Kyaligonza’s matter was not a bail application or a disregard for bail conditions imposed on him by court. The good General refused to appear to court SUMMONS on an alleged case of assault of a police officer; and no attempts were made to forcefully drag him to court.
It would appear that the state was not interested in bringing him to book; but desired him to handle the matter at a personal level with the offended police officer. In the case of Kyaligonza, the state was not interested in embarrassing the General. Therefore, one could safely say that, in playing a passive role, the state was complicit in orchestrating an embarrassment of court by Maj. General Matayo Kyaligonza.
On the other hand, there is all indication that Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde would never enjoy the protection of the kid gloves with which the state handled Gen. Kyaligonza.
Tumukunde is accused of serious offenses in which the government in power has particular interest. It would be simplistic for the judge to think that in this case, Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde would refuse to appear to bond and get away with it.
Within minutes of his absence from a scheduled sitting of court, the state machinery would present him naked in his underpants. Profiles and influence only serve a purpose when you still enjoy favor from the state, not when you are considered a renegade enemy of the state. Indeed, if Tumukunde were as influential as the judge perceived him, he wouldn’t have been arrested.
Therefore, using the example of Rtd Maj. Gen. Matayo Kyaligonza’s disrespect of court summons to seal Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde’s fate was irrational.
Serving UPDF soldiers as excusive sureties;
Most curiously, the judge demanded that a person can only be a substantial surety for an accused Military General if that person is also a Military General of the same or higher rank than the accused person.
Demanding that military officers exclusively bond military officers has been the practice of the General Court Martial (GCM); and one wonders if it is proper to bring Military Law into the Civilian Courts.
It is the practice of the civilian courts to treat retired military officers as civilians; and their sureties have consistently been civilians. I specifically don’t recall when any of Kiiza Besigye’s sureties were serving officers of the UPDF.
Like Besigye, Henry Tumukunde is a retired officer of the UPDF and is not charged under Military Law. As a civilian charged in a civilian court, his bail application and his sureties ought to have been assessed through civilian lenses.
The reasoning of the judge strangely vitiates the function of “army retirement” and is conspicuously absurd at every inch. There is absolutely no way a civilian charged with a criminal offense can be required to present serving military generals as sureties for bail. This reasoning is not tenable in law.
Secondly, Rtd. Lt. Gen. Tumukunde is accused of treason, an offense of a political nature. He is accused of engaging in activities purposed to illegally oust the legitimate government of H.E. General Yoweri K. Museveni, the founder and reigning Commander-in-Chief of the UPDF and all security forces of the Republic of Uganda.
By simple common sense, requiring such a person to exclusively present sureties from the serving class of the UPDF; and with letters of introduction from the Chief of Defense Forces (CDF) is completely hard to understand. It tantamounts to requiring an accused person to present the complainant as his surety; and is not tenable in Common Sense.
By all necessary implications, the judge set-out to create a situation through which Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde would never get bail from his court; and this is totally repugnant to the law and common sense.
It not only tantamounts to closing the doors of courts to him; but it also sets a very dangerous precedent to the administration of both Civilian and military Justice in this country.
ENTER THE COVID-19 LOCK DOWN;
The Covid-19 lockdown vis-a-vis incomplete investigation.
The presiding judge reasoned that the state’s capacity to complete investigations is inhibited by the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown. He therefore kept Lt. Gen. Tumukunde on extended remand until 30 (Thirty) days from the date when the COVID-19 lock down is lifted by the state.
This inevitably means that; (1) for as long as the nation remains under COVID 19 threat, Lt. Gen. Tumukunde shall remain on remand, and (2) even when the nationwide lock down is lifted by the state, Lt. Gen. Tumukunde shall remain on remand for a minimum of and additional 30(thirty) days before he can have any hope to be granted bail.
On critical analysis, it appears that the honorable judge reasoned and believed that investigations into the case of Gen. Tumukunde cannot be conducted during the COVID-19 lock down; and I shall now extensively discuss this question of COVID-19.
From the onset, I must say that it is strange that the Hon. Justice Wilson Kwesiga took judicial notice of the nationwide COVID-19 lock down as a factor inhibiting police investigations. This reasoning is erroneous.
First of all, the Uganda police is not affected by the lock-down regulations. To-date, members of the Uganda Police Force are free to move anywhere in the country and at any time. They are therefore able to move anywhere and conduct any criminal inquiries of any nature. It is therefore strange that the Honorable Judge reasoned that the COVID-19 lock-down regulations inhibit detectives from “accessing their sources of evidence”; or that the police officers are inhibited from “contacting people”.
The judge ought to have specifically explained how, in his considered opinion; the Presidential Directives on the management of COVID-19 inhibit criminal investigations into the alleged cases of 1) Treason contrary to Section 23(2)b of the Penal Code Act Cap 120 (Laws of Uganda), and (2) Unlawful possession of Fire Arms contrary to section 3(11) of the fire arms Act.
Even if it was taken that COVID-19 restrictions inhibit the process of investigations, it wouldn’t suffice to deny someone bail. At law, “Incomplete investigations” is not a legally permissible bar to the grant of bail; and the honorable judge was fully aware of this principle. I have already shown that at Page 5 of his ruling, the judge stated as follows;
“…In my view, incomplete state investigation is not a bar to granting of bail. I therefore reject the contention. It is a bad practice to arrest, remand and take time to investigate…”
This shows that he was aware of the legal principle that “Incomplete investigations” is not a legally permissible bar to the grant of bail. I have already shown that having noted as above, it made no reasonable sense for the judge to keep Tumukunde in jail on premises of “Incomplete investigations”.
Let me now emphasize that “Incomplete investigation” can only be sustained as a bar to the grant of bail IF IT IS ALSO SPECIFICALLY ALLEGED AND PROVEN that; when released on court bail, the accused person will antagonize the investigations, tamper with evidence and or tamper with potential witnesses.
There is nowhere in his ruling that Justice J.W Kwesiga found that, if released on bail, Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde would tamper with evidence, antagonize investigations or endanger potential witnesses. Indeed, it seems that the state never (at all) argued or proved that the release of Tumukunde was in any way a danger to investigations or to evidence!
Therefore, in the absence of cogent evidence showing that the grant of bail would facilitate the accused person to tamper with evidence and investigations, the presiding judge misdirected himself on the law, and reached an injudicious decision.
In relying on “incomplete investigations” to deny someone court bail, the Hon Justice J.W. Kwesiga demonstrated a lack of appreciation of the law applicable on bail applications; and accordingly made a decision that is conspicuously dangerous to the administration of justice in this country.
I hasten to add that if “incomplete investigation” was plainly permissible as a bar to bail, no accused person would be eligible for bail; because, in my humble experience, there is no criminal case where investigations are complete at the time of taking plea.
Therefore, in the wake of Justice JW. Kwesiga’s decision in the case of Gen. Tumukunde, it is not hard to predict that, pretty soon, we shall witness a wave of bail applications denied on the naked and questionable ground that “investigations are incomplete”, whatever that means.
One other important issue evaded the judge. If the COVID-19 lockdown is seriously considered, it gives rise to only one natural conclusion, that is; that the release of the accused (Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde) on bail during the subsistence of a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown would mean (as it actually does) that he would be confined to the physical boundaries of his home, without any freedom to move outside except to buy essential supplies!
This is what is happening to us all; as we endeavor to co-operate with the state and our President to address the dangers presented by the outbreak of COVID-19! This means that, even on bail, the accused would have no chance to freely move around and fail investigations. He wouldn’t even escape from the country since all national boarders are closed, including the national airports.
Therefore, no matter how it is stretched or bent, there is no reasonable legal sense exuded by the argument that the COVID-19 lockdown inhibits the process of investigations; unless of-course the judge meant to say that Henry Tumukunde is helping prison authorities to manage COVID-19 in prison; and that his release on bail would reduce the number of frontline medical workers at the Luzira prisons; or that Tumukunde is a proven victim of the COVID-19 whose release on bail, at this time, is a danger to the general society.
It is clear that the presiding judge flouted all the principles of law and reached erroneous conclusions. He was particularly too lazy to regurgitate the applicable laws of Uganda, digest them, and deliver justice for the bail applicant.
This judicial laziness continues to harangue our court system; and I don’t particularly know the major cause of the growing laziness and legal disorientation in our judiciary.
This issue could possibly have its root in the appointment and promotion politics touching our judiciary; especially given that appointments and promotions of judicial officers is the prerogative of the political class; and is not majorly a function of professional competence.
Whatever the cause, it is clear that the judiciary needs to be re-oriented towards the foundations of law and the administration of substantive justice. If this paternalism is to continue unchecked, it may well make more sense to abolish the Courts and the Rule of Law; and effectively return to governance by Decrees.
When should arrests be effected;
Before I take my leave, I wish to highlight that the reasoning of the presiding judge has once again brought to light one fundamental legal question. The specific question that we constantly raise is, “at what point should a suspect of a criminal offense be arrested by the police?”.
The law does not define exactly when a suspect of a criminal offense should be arrested. However, the spirit of the law is such that a person should be arrested when there is reasonable suspicion that he has committed a criminal offense or where there is reasonable suspicion that he is about to commit a criminal offense under the laws of Uganda.
In the latter case, the arrest is a “preventive measure” to curtail the commission of an offense. It is a “preventive arrest”. I shall not discuss preventive arrests because the case at hand was not effected for preventive reasons. Lt. Gen. Tumukunde remains a positive suspect of 1) Treason contrary to Section 23(2)b of the Penal Code Act Cap 120 (Laws of Uganda), and (2) Unlawful possession of Fire Arms contrary to section 3(11) of the fire arms Act. He stands accused of committing the two “very serious” offenses and is pending committal to the High Court of Uganda for trial.
In ordinary circumstances arrests should only be effected when there is “reasonable suspicion” that a person has committed an offense. I must add that there can never be “reasonable suspicion” unless and until the police have conducted preliminary inquiries into the allegations laid before them.
A police officer to who a criminal complaint is made is supposed to swiftly inquire into the complaint, gather preliminary evidence and then take informed actions. Arrests should only come after a preliminary inquiry. If this is done, there is no way the police would fail to produce accused persons in court within the prescribed timelines, because, by the time any one is arrested, there will be preliminary evidence creating reasonable suspicion of prima facie criminal liability.
This would enable the police and the Directorate of Criminal Prosecutions (DPP) to swiftly prepare pre-trial documents, (including holding charges) and present suspects in court within the legally prescribed schedules.
In the developed world, a suspect of a criminal offense is placed under a pre-arrest 24-hour watch as the police conduct preliminary inquiries. This ensures that, in case the suspect has intentions to run from justice, he does not get an opportunity to escape. This also helps the police to avoid acting on impulse, thereby “scaring” away evidence.
For offenses involving multiple offenders, an impulsive arrest of one of the suspects inevitably alerts others; and compels them to escape. This is why more than 90% of criminal charge sheets in Uganda indicate that other suspects are “at large”. Many of these so called “at large” suspects are never found.
Criminals tend to believe in their “smartness” until they get a clue that they are being pursued. In the immediate wake of their crimes, they are usually unafraid, often tranquilizing in the false belief that they left no clues. They stay in touch with one another and hold secret meetings and correspondences in an attempt to kill evidential tracks and escape justice.
Therefore, if such suspects or any one of them were put on a pre-arrest watch, their post crime meetings and correspondences would provide vital leads in criminal investigations.
In Uganda, there is absolutely no pre-arrest police watch on criminal suspects. Within minutes after the complaint is laid before police, arrests are impulsively effected, often without any preliminary inquiries beyond the complaint presented by the complainant.
Usually, these impulsive arrests are engineered by the desire to make some money in the grant of police bonds. Yes. Across the country, police bond is a known source of income for police officers. Bond is a commodity on sale.
Many times, the persons arrested are innocent; and this explains why our police system largely relies on torture as a means of criminal interrogation. They form a pre-investigation conclusions of guilt and torture suspects into admissions. This is wrong.
Once you impulsively arrest the wrong guy, you make “a mistake of first entry”. A mistake of first entry is a common term of financial accounting. In accounting, once a wrong figure is entered in the accounting sheets, it will reflect in the final tally and you cannot easily tell where that wrong entry was made.
Therefore, once you arrest a wrong guy and beat him to admit guilt, you have lost the plot. Once you use torture as a tool of investigation, you lose the point. You leave the criminal at large, and this largely explains why the rate of “repeat crime” is particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa.
I have related all the above to drive to one point. If police were doing their pre-arrest work very professionally, there wouldn’t be a point where the state would present a person to court and then argue that investigations are incomplete. In this regard, our investigative units need to pull up their socks.
I say this for God and my country.
Banturaki Bernard Paddy Esq,
THE WRITER IS AN ADVOCATE OF THE HIGH COURT OF UGANDA, THE PROPRIETOR OF BANTURAKI & CO. ADVOCATES AND THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF LEGAL CARE UGANDA LTD
CONTACT: [email protected]//+256702592912April 20, 2020 at 8:15 pm #204687
Political contests in Uganda, Play out in courtrooms
Political contests in Uganda, right from the colonial era, have an uncanny tendency of playing out in courtrooms. Judges occasionally find themselves entangled in the labyrinth of contradictions among adults in our political space. At one point it was colonial subjects being paraded in courts manned by White men for challenging colonialism, at another era it was ministers once in president Milton Obote’s government in court for crossing his path.
At another juncture, it is President Museveni’s Bush War time medical aide running from one courtroom to another answering treason, rape and a cocktail of other charges after he offers himself for the presidency. Sometimes it is a presidential election gone bad that needs the Supreme Court to pronounce itself on whether it was free or fair.
And so, presidential hopeful Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde was arrested, with the State accusing him of treason and illegal possession of firearms. His lawyers took to the High Court to apply for bail and on April 14, a ruling was delivered. That decision by Justice Wilson Kwesiga has elicited different opinions.
Judges, unlike politicians, deliver rulings that leave one party, in most cases, unhappy. In contentious cases, especially those with high stake politricks (sic), as a judge, you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Accordingly, judges only have one recourse, and that is the law.
So how did Justice Kwesiga fair on the law, and fidelity to that blind goddess of justice to which he swore to his God to serve without fear or favour?
What the High Court ruled
The judge acknowledged in his ruling that the grant of a bail application is a purely discretionary decision of court, judiciously arrived at after examining circumstances and evidence of each application. To that end, the judge noted: “I am not bound by previous decisions in bail applications, whether decided by me or other judges.”
He then agreed that the applicant was of advanced age, had a fixed place of abode in Kololo, Kampala, which is within the jurisdiction of court, and overruled the Director of Public Prosecution’s objection that having been previously convicted by the General Court Martial, the applicant was not qualified for grant of bail.
The judge also rejected the State’s objection to the application on the ground that investigations into the case are complex, are at an early stage and grant of bail would hinder success of the inquiry.
Recognising that it is a bad practice to arrest, remand and take time to investigate, the judge declined to indulge in debate on whether the Tumukunde case is complex, but took cognisance of the fact that in the disabling circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic and its lockdown effects on the country, “the solution is to accommodate both parties.”
To protect State evidence yet to be gathered, the solution, the judge held, “is not to reject releasing the applicant on bail, but to delay the release for a reasonable time due to prevailing national precautions that stopped movement of persons to prevent regrettable health occurrence.”
In criminal cases, justice starts with investigation, gathering evidence and preserving it for trial. He noted that the detectives had been understandably delayed in completion of their investigations as contact with persons has been limited by government’s Covid-19 measures.
The bail application would be reconsidered when the circumstances around the pandemic have changed.
In effect, the judge did not outrightly deny Gen Tumukunde bail on the basis of this ground, but made a persuasive argument for the grant of that bail to be delayed; firstly, to allow the State time to conclude its investigations in light of the delays caused by the pandemic, and secondly, to review the application after those circumstances have changed.
In effect, the judge was trying to balance a tight rope, on one side the interests of the applicant, and on the other the State. Justice means justice for both parties.
A High Court judge I discussed this ruling with off the record opined that she found this ground particularly justifiable because it is important to protect witnesses and not to compromise evidence or the entire investigation process, at least in principle.
To that end, any objective mind looking at the judge’s decision with the whole picture in mind would be inclined to give the court the benefit of doubt.
Of course, arguments such as ‘but Tumukunde did not cause the pandemic’ or ‘why would he be denied bail by investigation delays caused by the pandemic?’ are valid, but largely for sentimental and moral value.
The legal wrap up to this would be that the court exercised its discretion judiciously to the extent that it did not outrightly deny the applicant bail, but made a case for delay of grant of bail, leaving room for review of the application when the circumstances around the lockdown of the country change.
In that regard, the judge appears to have justified his discretion to deny the General bail.
There is a challenge, however, and an alarming precedent that the judge set in the second and arguably most important ground to deny the applicant bail. The crux of this issue is substantiality of sureties; those men and women any of us may at one point in life need to give a guarantee to court that the accused will turn up for his or her trial if released on bail. They accept the responsibility to pay a fixed sum of money to government if the accused does not appear. They must be adults of sound mind and of good standing in society.
As the judge observed, substantial sureties depend on the circumstances of each case. The most important consideration should be whether the surety can prevail over, control and where necessary, compel the accused to abide by the terms and conditions of bail. This calls for persons of proven influence or authority over the accused.
Noting that Tumukunde is a General of the UPDF (though retired), whose application for bail projected a man with a high profile and substantial influence, the judge declined to grant him bail. He found his sureties not substantial. In the test of substantiality of sureties, the court aroused controversy.
In building his argument through analogy, nay speculation, the judge noted that an army General has in the past defied court summons and this embarrassment must be avoided. Rather than review Tumukunde’s own record on bail and behaviour when he has been subject of court process, the judge chose to indulge in an expedition of fishing evidence outside his court room.
Rather than cite examples of another General (whom he did not name) that defied court summons, the judge could have as well reviewed how other senior military officers who have been tried before our courts have behaved, if he was not in the mood of looking at how Tumukunde conducted himself when he was on trial in the Court Martial.
Dr Kizza Besigye, a retired Colonel, and Gen David Sejusa, who had similar or even more clout than Tumukunde, just like Gen Kale Kayihura who is currently facing trial, have all obeyed court summons when subjected to court process. Why the judge chose to rely on the example of the unnamed General who disobeyed court summons when he had in the dock, a General once tried by court and several other military officers who have not defied court summons, raises more questions than answers.
This reasoning by analogy is important to point out to the extent that it is the foundation of the argument on why court thought the sureties weren’t substantial and the subsequent test of substantiality of sureties in this case.
In his view, “Military officers seeking to be released on bail should furnish court with sureties who have capacity to trace, prevail over them or even compel them to abide by court orders.”
The appropriate sureties, he ruled, “should have been two military officers of his rank or higher ranks provided if the sureties are serving officers, they shall submit a letter of introduction from the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF).”
Tumukunde had presented his wife, relative Hannington Byaruhanga, former army commander, Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, and FDC vice president for eastern region Proscovia Salaamu Musumba. The judge found all these sureties not substantial. Other judges I have discussed this ruling with are persuaded that an adult family member like the applicant’s wife would pass the substantiality test as would Maj Gen Muntu and even Musumba.
Justice Wilson Kwesiga.
Compare and contrast
By contrast, when four-star Gen David Sejusa sought bail not so long ago, he presented as sureties Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and a one Deo Kizito. The High Court then didn’t make similar demands in terms of substantiality of his sureties.
Similarly, when Col Besigye in 2005 sought bail, the High Court accepted Mr John Ken Lukyamuzi (then Rubaga South MP, and secretary general of the Conservative Party), Dr Francis Epetait, (MP for Ngora County at the time), Capt Charles Byaruhanga (MP for Kibaale County then), Odonga Otto (Aruu County MP) and Mr Monamed Kibirige Mayanja (president of Jeema party then).
When ex-police chief Gen Kayihura sought bail, the General Court Martial accepted two sureties who were below his rank of four-star General; Maj Gen Sam Kavuma, the Deputy Commander of Land Forces, Maj Gen James Mugira, CEO of National Enterprise Corporation, which is the business arm of the UPDF, and a civilian, Rosemary Tumusiime, the MP of Entebbe Municipality.
Had the High Court in 2005 followed Justice Kwesiga’s reasoning in 2020, that would mean Besigye, a retired senior army officer like Tumukunde, would have had to submit two sureties of his rank or above, serving army officers with introduction letters from the army commander. That would mean, in real terms, no bail for the applicant. The same is true with Gen Sejusa and Gen Kayihura’s bail applications.
Justice Kwesiga, though not bound by these precedents, would have had a wiser and fairer ruling if he had consulted these authorities instead of reasoning by analogy and speculation constructed around foretelling and forestalling an imaginary embarrassment to his court by assuming the General may defy court summons and the sureties, who included his wife, a fellow retired general, a senior party leader and former MP, cannot compel or cause the applicant to appear in court when needed.
Even then, one would have to be from outer space to imagine that it is practical, in our political context, for the CDF to introduce serving army officers as sureties for a man facing a treason charge and running against his Commander-in-Chief. To flip the mental coin, close your eyes and imagine court asking Besigye in 2005 to get sureties who are serving army officers at, or above, the rank of Colonel with clearance from the army commander in an election year.
If the judge’s reasoning be stretched further, this monstrous precedent means that tomorrow, another judge will demand that a Makerere University professor facing trial produces academics of his rank or higher who must have clearance from the vice chancellor, or an MP presents sureties of his level or higher with clearance from the Speaker of Parliament, or a High Court judge on trial presents sureties at his or higher level with a letter from the Chief Justice.
By setting this standard, the judge has opened floodgates of unfeasible benchmarks for substantiality of sureties, and it is a road most dangerous for Uganda’s rule of law.
To back this up, I will seek the wisdom of two judges. Although Mr Kwesiga insists he is not bound by their decisions, at least he may find their appreciation of the law persuasive.
The basic object of bail is to secure the accused’s subsequent appearance before court when his presence is needed, a position amplified in the American case of Johnson vs Shaffer.
Bail, as Justice James Ogoola held in Kizza Besigye vs Uganda (criminal misc. application no. 228 of 2005) is, “the judicial instrument for ensuring the liberty of the individual. In this regard, the quest for bail is a quest for liberty. The right to the liberty of the individual is next only to the individual’s right to life itself. Liberty is as crucial in a free and democratic society, as breath is to life.”
Liberty, as Ogoola held, is so precious a commodity that during the American struggle for independence some 300 years ago, one of the American independence protagonists – Thomas Paine – “summed up the situation with the following eloquent and immortal declaration – a declaration not of suicide and despair, but of defiance and triumph: “ Give me liberty, or give me death.”
In our constitutional matrix here in Uganda, the retired Principal Judge noted: “liberty looms large. The liberty of one, is the liberty of all. The liberty of anyone must never be curtailed lightly, wantonly or, even worse, arbitrarily.”
Article 23, Clause (6) of the Constitution grants a person who is deprived of his or her liberty, the right to apply to a competent court of law for the grant of bail. The courts from which such a person seeks refuge and solace, “should be extremely wary of sending such a person away empty handed – except, of course, for good cause. Ours are courts of justice. Ours is the duty and privilege to jealously and courageously guard and defend the rights of all, in spite of all.”
By sending away Tumukunde empty handed on the basis of want of substantial sureties using a test of substantiality most alien in our jurisprudence, the court’s decision, analysed through the Ogoola standard in the Besigye case, did not only dispense of its discretion injudiciously, but also curtailed his liberty and by extension, liberty of other Ugandans through the power of precedent, “lightly, wantonly or, even worse, arbitrarily.”
In Kenny’s Outlines of Criminal Law, 19th Edition, the learned author advises courts in exercising the discretion to admit a remand prisoner to bail to consider what likelihood there is of his failing to appear for trial. The courts are also advised to consider whether the proposed sureties are independent or are likely to be indemnified by the accused. It is this test that Justice Kwesiga relied on as the ground to dismiss Tumukunde’s application.
High Court Criminal Miscellaneous Application No. 075 of 2016 (His Majesty Omusinga Mumbere Charles Wesley vs Uganda) is also instructive. In that case, the applicant was, jointly with others, charged with multiple offences of terrorism, murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery, treason, and malicious damage to property. At the time of the application for bail, police investigations were still on going.
Learned judge Eva K. Luwata said: “In our law, the primary purpose of bail should be to ensure that the applicant appears to stand trial without the necessity of being detained in custody during the period of trial.”
In Dr Ismail Kalule vs Uganda (criminal miscellaneous application no. 001 of 2018) where the applicant was arrested in May 2016, at the High Court Criminal Division soon after his acquittal of several counts of terrorism and murder, Justice Moses Mukiibi held: “….the court must be satisfied that the applicant will appear for trial and not abscond. If facts come to light that there is a substantial likelihood of the applicant offending bail, it is advisable to reject the application.”
It appears that the only substantial likelihood of Tumukunde absconding from trial, according to the judge, is the fact that in Uganda’s court history, an unnamed General has ever disregarded court summons. To save his court from embarrassment, the judge chose to raise the substantiality bar on sureties for the applicant.
Justice Mukiibi standard on bail
In the Kalule case, Justice Mukiibi considered the following factors in a bail application: The need to give the applicant for bail the full benefit of his constitutional rights and freedoms, absence of any evidence that the applicant may cause lawlessness to society if released on bail, absence of any evidence from the respondent that there is a risk of the applicant absconding, absence of any evidence that the applicant has any likelihood of interfering with the course of justice, the seriousness of the charges against the applicant, absence of any evidence that the applicant is likely to commit other offences while on bail, absence of any indication that the applicant is violent or threatens violence against anyone.
He added absence of any evidence that the applicant is likely to interfere with the prosecution’s witnesses, the status of the case that after more than one year and three months the Chief Magistrate’s Court committal file has not been delivered to the International Crimes Division, and the constitutional requirement that the applicant must be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty or until he pleads guilty, the caution that bail should not be refused as a form of punishment for the applicant.
Other considerations are: The presence of sound sureties within the jurisdiction of court who are ready to undertake that the applicant shall comply with the conditions of his bail. The fact that the applicant has a wife and children and leads a settled existence, with a fixed place of abode within the jurisdiction of court. Absence of any information from the respondent that there are other charges pending against the applicant.
The import of these standards as set out by Justice Mukiibi is that the court must be satisfied that the applicant will appear for trial and not abscond. The nature of sureties must be such as to have independence and capacity to cause and compel the applicant to appear in court. Nowhere in the law is that capacity of sureties tied to ranks or seniority, even if each case must be considered on its merits. Justice Kwesiga’s decision, therefore, is out of its depth even if the strictest legal measure was applied.
Considering all the foregoing factors, Justice Mukiibi was satisfied that the applicant would return to attend his trial. Had the judge addressed his mind to the Mukiibi standard on factors to be considered in granting bail, and read that together with the Ogoola and Luswata decisions in the Besigye and King Mumbere cases respectively, the court would have most likely set more reasonable parameters for substantial sureties.
Even when court is clothed with discretionary power, that power is not a magic wand to issue edicts that defeat the ends of justice, erode principles built over time in our jurisprudence and undermine the very essence of the right to bail.May 7, 2020 at 6:00 pm #204772
Uganda Advocates During the Covid-19 lock down
The Chief Justice of Uganda Hon Bart Katureebe Magunda has given his opinion on the recent presidential directive permitting only 30 advocates to join the essential service providers during the Covid19 lock down period
While appearing on NBS this morning, the Chief Justice said since people are entitled to lawyers of their choice, the Attorney General should advise government on a better way of handling the situation
“The Attorney General should be able to sit with members of the task force or even the president and iron this out. The mechanisms of this can still be figured out.”
The Uganda Law Society President Simon Peter Kinobe has since written to the Chief Registrar informing him that all their members have a right to appear before court and instructions of who to appear in court depends upon clients.
“Therefore our members deserve to appear as when their clients cases are scheduled before the courts of law.”
Kinobe attached a full list of registered advocates in the country for consideration
He went further and revealed that currently they are in engagements with government departments such Police to ensure that they don’t interfere with their members as they head to handle matters of their clients.
In a letter dated 5th May 2020, the Acting Chief Registrar Tom Chemutai wrote to Uganda Law Society president requesting him for a list of 30 advocates who will be appearing before various of courts of law in line with presidential directive of 4th May 2020.May 11, 2020 at 2:01 pm #204781
Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde has been granted bail
High Court Judge Wilson Kwesiga has granted bail to retired Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde who is charged with two counts of treason and unlawful possession of guns.
Tumukunde was released on a non cash bail of 50 million shillings and each of his three sureties ordered to execute a non cash bond of 50 million shillings.
This came after the judge reviewed his earlier decision and approved Tumukunde’s earlier sureties as substantial
The sureties include his wife, Stella Tumukunde, brother in law Hannington Karuhanga and a Mathew Rukikaire a family friend
The judge put into consideration the fact that according to the nature of the offences against Tumukunde, no serving officer can stand surety for him.
Justice Kwesiga had earlier declined to release Tumukunde on grounds that he had to produce senior army officer at his rank or above his rank, with permission from the CDF.
The judge argued back then that these were the only people who could have influence to the retired General especially by compelling him to attend court wherever he would be required to do so.
However, having failed to fulfil this requirement, Tumukunde through his lawyers filed an application before the same court seeking for the terms to be relaxed.
As one of the conditions, Tumukunde has been ordered to deposit in court his passport.
Its alleged that Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde on 5th March 2020 while at NBS Television in Kampala district during one of the weekly talk shows, made utterances to wit “if I was Rwanda I would wish to support people who want to cause change aimed at instigating the Republic of Uganda to cause unlawful change of government.”
Its further alleged that on 13th March 2020 at Impala Avenue Kololo in Kampala district he was found in possession of an AK 47 and Star Pistol without valid fire arm certificates.June 7, 2020 at 9:41 am #204817
Presidential hopeful Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde
Presidential hopeful Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde has said he was imprisoned by the establishment due to his divergent views and urged opposition to unite as the country prepares for the 2021 general elections.
“I was continually denied access to my family, legal team, doctors and advisors. I was essentially a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned because of my difference in political opinion with the establishment,” said Tumukunde.
“It is not by coincidence that my arrest and subsequent imprisonment happened just eight days after my declaration to contest for the presidency of this nation,” he added in a statement issued on Saturday.
Tumukunde was in March arrested from his private office in Kololo, Kampala, over his remarks urging Rwanda to cause regime change in Uganda.
While appearing on a television talk show in Kampala, Tumukunde appeared to ask for support from Rwanda.
“If I was Rwanda, I would support people who want to cause change in Uganda,” said Tumukunde.
The eyebrow-raising comments came at a time Uganda’s relations with Rwanda were at their lowest.
Both countries were teetering on the edge of an all-out military conflict.
Tumukunde’s remarks were condemned by several high profile Ugandan officials.
“This is the most reckless statement I have heard from anybody running for President,” said Uganda’s envoy to United Nations, Adonia Ayebare.
“Inviting a foreign country to interfere in our politics, which is in contravention with the UN charter and other regional protocols?” he wondered.
In his statement today, the former spy master also narrated his ordeal while he was under confinement in Luzira maximum prison.
Tumukunde was granted bail on 11 May 2020 after 59 days in jail.
Tumukunde, who is still battling treason charges, said his “imprisonment is a price that I have paid for offering myself for leadership of this country. A price that many others have paid and continue to pay for having alternative views as we attempt to achieve true democracy, rule of law, economic transformation for all and a peaceful political transition. I extend an open invitation to all Ugandans to join in the struggle for this unprecedented peaceful change.”
Tumukunde also called for an alliance of the political opposition to force Museveni out of power.
“I would like to send a message to members of the opposition including those in the ruling party with alternative views that all we suffer can be ended through a united front to achieve change in this country. I wish to remind you that we are six months away from scheduled general elections of 2021,” said Tumukunde.
However, Tumukunde has a long way to go to convince the opposition to trust him considering he is a former spy.
Secondly, some of the president’s harsh critics have since quietly returned to the ruling party.
Tumukunde had fallen out with Museveni in the early 2000s only to return in 2016 as the president’s chief campaign manager.
The General said “it matters that all of us take special judicial notice that it is strictly a short time to objectively sort out the issues that stand before us especially the obstacles that deny us a levelled ground to contest and win these coming elections.”
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