The High Court Criminal Division has dismissed the bail application of Dr. Kizza Besigye and Samuel Lubega Mukaaku.
The application was dismissed on Thursday by Justice Tadeo Asiimwe on grounds that it was prematurely brought before the High Court. He said that the applicants ought to have either filed a fresh application before Buganda Road Court Grade One Magistrate or the Chief Magistrates Court.
On June 15, Besigye and Mukaaku were arraigned before the Buganda Road Magistrates Court presided over by Grade One Magistrate Asuman Muhumuza and charged with inciting violence before they were remanded to Luzira prison.
The charges stemmed from a protest held along Nakivubo lane, Kampala city against the skyrocketing prices of different basic commodities.
Besigye and Mukaaku were however two days later returned to court and applied for bail which Muhumuza denied on grounds that he could not guarantee that the two shall not commit the same charges once released.
Muhumuza argued that Buganda Road Court had less than two weeks prior to his decision granted bail to the two accused persons on similar charges, only to return to court in a period of less than two weeks on the same charges.
Besigye and Mukaaku through their lawyers led by Samuel Muyizzi Mulindwa, Ivan Bwowe, and Ernest Kalibala applied for bail in the High Court.
The lawyers indicated that the Magistrates Court wrongfully denied bail to their clients based on a track record of unprosecuted cases opened against them by the State most of which are reportedly brought in bad faith.
According to the lawyers, this was in bad faith and amounted to political persecution. Muyizzi cited capital offenses such as rape and treason cases leveled against Besigye in 2005 and 2016 respectively but the State did not proceed to prosecute them to their logical conclusion.
Muyizzi thus argued that Mukaaku and Besigye have substantial sureties who will be able to make sure that they return to Court as and when required.
The lawyer presented Kampala Capital City Deputy Lord Mayor Doreen Nyanjura, former Rukungiri Municipality Member of Parliament Roland Mugume, and Besigye’s partner Winnie Byanyima as Besigye’s sureties.
Mukaaku’s sureties were Buikwe South MP Dr. Lulume Bayiga, Kitgum Municipality MP Denis Onekalit, and former Mbale District Woman MP aspirant Margaret Wokuri Madanda.
But the State Attorney Isaiah Wanamama had no objection to the sureties but asked the court to dismiss the application and send it back to the lower court.
According to Wanamama, the application was prematurely before the High Court because the laws governing the Magistrates Court indicate that should one be denied bail, one can apply to the Chief Magistrate as the supervisor of the Magistrates Court.
Wanamama said if the High Court grants Mukaaku and Besigye bail, it will be the first case in their records to have succeeded after skipping the Chief Magistrates Court.
Asiimwe said that Mukaaku and Besigye did not follow the administrative hierarchy of the courts of law. He indicated that granting them bail, would amount to the interference of the judicial processes and cause an unnecessary backlog in the High Court.
Justice Asiimwe advised appealing to the Chief Magistrate if they are still interested in bail.
Mukaaku and Besigye were further remanded to Luzira prison.
The lawyers led by Abdullah Kiwanuka said that they are going back to Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court as advised by the High Court.