The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Norbert Mao has regretted that granting bail to Members of Parliament Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana was long overdue and marred by political interference.
On 13th February 2023, the Masaka High Court Judge Lawrence Tweyanze released Ssegirinya, the Kawempe North MP and his counterpart Ssewanyana, Makindye West Division MP after spending 15 months on remand following alleged murder of 20 people in Greater Masaka region in August 2021.
The Judge granted the duo bail to enable them have access to medical treatment due to their deteriorating health conditions. The suspects paid a cash bond of 20 million Shillings and deposited their passports with the court while their sureties paid 50 million Shillings non-cash bond.
While addressing the media at the Democratic Party-DP headquarters in Kampala on Tuesday, Mao said denial of bail to the accused and continuous incarceration by the State was a violation of their right guaranteed by Article 23 (6) of the 1995 Constitution and was ‘no longer prosecution but persecution.
Mao revealed that he quietly brokered the release of the two legislators and others who were under not for any ‘political gain’ but for the sake of their families who had numerously approached him over their missing bread winners because their case was ‘over politicized.’
The Minister, without mentioning names lashed out at some leaders within the opposition political parties who ‘meet’ President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni quietly for deals yet they criticize dialogue and negotiation and described them as ‘opportunists and hypocrites.’
Mao, the President of the opposition Democratic Party – DP, who was appointed by Museveni to head the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in July 2022, condemned leaders who oppose dialogue as a peaceful mechanism in nation building to foster a democratic and harmonious society.
Mao’s observation follows a statement from the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga who distanced himself from any negotiations that led to the release of the two Members of Parliament.
Equally, in a statement dated 16th February, 2023, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine, the opposition National Unity Platform – NUP President reiterated the party’s position that it would not ‘beg Museveni and his criminal regime’ to negotiate to bail, which is entirely a court process.
Bobi Wine described the release of the MPs who are members of the opposition NUP, which is being pegged to negotiations with President Museveni as shameful and ridiculous which depicts the level of impunity and lawlessness of the ruling National Resistance Movement – NRM Government.