Buganda Road Court has declined to drop charges of being part of an unlawful society recently preferred against Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leader Dr. Kizza Besigye.
The two had asked the court to throw out the charges saying their constitutional rights were violated prior to their court appearance on November 21 last year.
Through their lawyers; Medard Sseggona and Abdu Katuntu, the duo argued that prior to their court appearance, police violated their constitutional right by not arraigning them in court within 48 hours from the time of their arrest rendering such charges, a nullity.
The two did not plead to the charges preferred against them as they chose to remain silent.
Their respective arrests were effected after the release of the KCCA Tribunal report that found Lukwago guilty of abuse of office, misconduct, and incompetence, a report that later led to his controversial impeachment by 29 councilors days later.
But presiding Grade One Magistrate Julius Borore in his ruling held that the same could not cause a nullification of their charges.
The Magistrate advised them to seek other legal redress for compensation but the charges of being members of unlawful society will stand.
The magistrate in his ruling explained that there is already a Constitutional Court decision of Mugoya Vs Attorney General on the same matter and that decision binds on his court.
Following the pronunciation of the court on the same, Chrysostom Katumba, the lawyer who represented the two opposition politicians, unsuccessfully asked court to refer his clients’ grievances to the Constitutional Court for interpretation.
He wanted the Constitutional Court to determine whether any violations of constitutional rights of the accused can lead to automatic nullification of the charges.
However, court rejected Katumba’s pleas after state attorney Martin Rukundo submitted that such a similar reference has already been determined and dismissed by the Constitutional Court and that there is no reason to refer the same for interpretation.
But on a lighter note, the magistrate adjourned the session to tomorrow for lawyer Katumba to avail court with documents to show that there is a reference to the Constitutional Court challenging the legality of the very charges of unlawful society.
Court will then take a decision on whether to halt the charges of unlawful society against Lukwago and Besigye until the reference is determined by the Constitutional Court or not.
Prosecution alleges that Dr Besigye and the Lord Mayor and others still at large, on July 19 this year, while at Katonga Road in Kampala, held themselves as members of banned pressure groups ‘For God and My Country-4GC’ and ‘Activists for Change- A4C’ which constituted an unlawful society.