Mbabazi unsuccessfully challenges Museveni’s victory
Early in the year, former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, who lost to incumbent President Museveni in the February 18, 2016, elections, made a last-minute dash to the Supreme Court to file a petition challenging the outcome of the elections.
But in their verdict, all the nine justices of the final court in the land, including Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, on March 31, 2016, unanimously held that although there was non-compliance by the Electoral Commission in conducting the same presidential elections, the same non-compliance did not substantially affect the final results to warrant nullification.
The court further held that Mr Mbabazi’s lawyers didn’t adduce sufficient evidence to support their allegations against Mr Museveni.
But while giving their detailed judgment, delivered on August 26, 2016, the justices came up with 10 recommendations that they thought, once implemented by government, would deliver free and fair presidential elections starting with 2021.
The justices recommended that the laws be amended to give losers in the presidential polls up to 60 days to gather evidence and present their case, unlike in the current law where the losing candidate is given only 10 days with court having 30 days to determine it.
The justices also recommended that witnesses must appear in person as opposed to the current law that allows witnesses to hide behind a computer and type their narrations in form of affidavits.
Further, the justices recommended that the sitting president should be barred from giving out donations during campaigns, a move that is aimed at dealing away with bribery claims during campaign.
The recommendations of the court, if put into practice, will also see a law enacted to bar public servants from meddling in elections.
Besigye charged with treason
The disputed February 18 presidential elections saw the State arrest Dr Kizza Besigye, the runner up, for having sworn-in himself as president.
Besigye was arrested on the eve of President Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony in Kampala before being airlifted to Moroto District where he was charged with treason.
He was later transferred to Luzira prison in Kampala and charged afresh before Nakawa Court with the same treason charges.
Dr Besigye is accused of having sworn himself in as president of Uganda following a video footage that was circulated on social media on May 11, 2016, in which he appears to swear in as president at an unknown location before a lady judge, a move that the State says amounts to the offence of treason.
As the year came to an end, the Opposition leader, who is out on a non-cash bail of Shs100m, had not yet been sent to the High Court to stand trial since the State was still carrying out investigations, a delay that has annoyed the FDC leader.
IGP Kayihura sued
In the course of the year, another shocker in the courts of law was when two law firms instituted private criminal proceedings against the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, and seven of his senior officers for allegedly being behind the beating of Dr Kizza Besigye’s supporters shortly after he was released on bail.
The two law firms were Lukwago & Co Advocates and Namugali & Walyemera Co Advocates.
But in the process of the proceedings, the Director of Public Prosecutions, as mandated by the Constitution, took over the trial after a protracted legal battle.
Also, during the proceedings Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma stopped the continued prosecution of Kayihura and his men until the constitutional petition filed by Robert Rutaro, a former Makerere University guild president, is determined.
As the year came to an end, the same constitutional petition had not been cause-listed and heard as directed by Justice Kavuma.
It had been alleged that Gen Kayihura and his indicted senior officers, being superior officers of the Uganda Police Force, in various places in and around Kampala between 2011 and 2016, but most notably on July 13, 2016, and July 14, 2016, were liable for the acts of torture committed against Joseph Kaddu, Andrew Ssebitosi, Rogers Ddiba and other members of the general public, including boda boda riders and supporters of Dr Besigye.
It was this case that saw hundreds of pro-Kayihura goons storm Makindye Chief Magistrates Court to disrupt the proceedings on ground that the police boss was innocent. The invasion of the court was condemned by the Chief Justice, Uganda Law Society and other stakeholders.
Kampala bombers convicted
In May, Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo finally gave a guilty and not guilty verdict in one of the high profile criminal cases involving the bombing and killing of at least 76 people at Kyadondo Rugby Club and Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kabalagala, both in Kampala.
In Justice Owiny-Dollo’s verdict, eight men were convicted after evidence linked them to the planning and execution of the bombings as revellers were watching Fifa World Cup finals between Spain and Netherlands in 2010.
They were convicted for terrorism, murder and attempted murder. Those convicted were: Isa Ahmed Luyima, Hassan Haruna Luyima, Hussein Hassan Agad, alias Hussein Agade, Idris Magondu, alias Christopher Magondu, Suleiman Hajjir Nyamandondo , Muzafar Luyima, Habib Suleiman Njoroge and Mohamed Ali Mohamed.
The convicts were subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment and 50 years respectively. They have since appealed the same sentence before Court of Appeal and it’s pending hearing.
The five who were acquitted were later rearrested by security operatives and charged afresh with terrorism related charges before court in Jinja.
As the year came to an end, they had not yet been committed to the High Court to stand trial.
Pension scam thieves convicted
As the year came to an end, three former top Ministry of Public Service officials implicated in the Shs88.2b pension scam were convicted and subsequently sentenced.
The convicts are Jimmy Lwamafa (former permanent secretary), Stephen Kunsa Kiwanuka (former director of research and development) and Christopher Obey (former principal accountant in the pensions department).
When it came to sentencing, Justice Lawrence Gidudu handed Lwamafa a seven -year jail term, Kunsa five years and Obey 10 years.
The judge in his verdict stated that the three officials were involved in syndicate corruption that was started in the Public Service ministry, smoothened in the Finance ministry and perfected in Cairo Bank where the said money was paid out to ghost pensioners.
While handing down the harshest sentence to Obey, 48, the trial judge observed that he was the technocrat who should have advised his colleagues on budget formation, execution and further considering that he generated the schedules through which the funds were drained where he was the co-signatory.
Further in his judgment, Justice Gidudu ordered the trio to jointly compensate government with Shs50b. He said the compensation would have been much higher but since convicts were assisted by other criminals who are still at large, Shs50b compensation would be sufficient in the circumstances.
The latest as the year was ending was that the trio had appealed against the judgment before the Court of Appeal and the same appeal was still pending hearing.
Likewise as the year was coming to an end, the DPP had commenced the recovery process of Shs50b that the Anti-Corruption Court had ordered the pension convicts to compensate government.
Kasiwukira widow acquitted
It was one of the high profile murder cases of the year. In the end it saw a policeman and his girlfriend convicted for the murder of Kampala businessman Eriya Bugembe, popularly known as Kasiwukira.
The convicts were Jaden Ashiraf, a police officer formerly attached to Muyenga Community Police Station, and Sandra Nakungu, the sister-in-law to the late Kasiwukira.
In his verdict, presiding judge Wilson Masalu Musene held that in his analysis the police officer (Jaden) was not only seen in the killer vehicle on the fateful morning of October 17, 2014, but he was the one who knocked the deceased dead.
Still before the same court, Ms Sarah Nabikolo, the slain businessman’s widow, was found innocent and accordingly acquitted of the murder charges.
However, police arrested her at the eastern border post of Busia as she attempted to cross to Kenya using different names on her travel documents.
The DPP has also appealed the acquittal of Ms Nabikolo and on the other hand, convicts Jaden and Nakungu have also appealed against their conviction before the Court of Appeal.
Prosecution said the slain businessman was run over by a car while he was jogging in the morning on October 17, 2014, on the road near his home in Muyenga, a Kampala suburb.
Police dismissed preliminary claims that Kasiwukira’s killing was accidental. The Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, ordered thorough investigations whose findings pointed to a possible murder.
Preliminary investigations implicated the widow, family members and business partners.
Kasiwukira is remembered for his critical role in the development of the local music industry. At the time of his death, he was the deputy treasurer of the Kwagalana group, a group that is known as the rich men’s club in Kampala.
Kanyamunyu brothers charged
Towards the end of the year, the country witnessed the beginning of a court process in the trial of two brothers; Mathew and Joseph Kanyamunyu and 26-year-old Cynthia Munwangari.
The trio was charged before Nakawa Magistrates’ Court in connection with the alleged murder of Kenneth Akena, a social worker.
Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend were arrested on suspicion that the former drew a pistol at the late Akena after he reportedly knocked his car at Lugogo, in Kampala and shot him.
The deceased had reportedly gone to apologise to Kanyamunyu after he knocked his car, but Kanyamunyu instead allegedly lowered the windows of his car and shot him. Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend took Akena to Norvic Hospital on Bombo Road where he died the following day.
Police say Akena told his cousins that it was Kanyamunyu who shot him after he accidentally knocked his car. But Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend insist that they were acting as good Samaritans who took Akena to hospital after unidentified assailants shot him.
As the year came to an end, the investigations into their matter were still ongoing and they had not yet applied to be released on bail pending the hearing of their murder case that carries a maximum penalty of death by hanging on conviction.
Nakawa MP charged in court martial
Mid year, police and security agencies arrested Nakawa MP Michael Kabaziguruka who was arraigned before the General Court Martial with 26 others over an alleged plot to overthrow the government.
While on remand, Mr Kabaziguruka twice challenged the jurisdiction of the court martial to try him, but he lost both applications in the High Court and the Court Martial.
After his release on bail, Mr Kabaziguruka has since petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging the legality of the court.
Deputy Speaker Oulanyah
divorces his wife
The Family Division of High Court allowed the divorce of Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah and his estranged wife Winnie Amoo Oulanyah to end their three-year-old marriage.
Justice Alexandria Rugardya Nkonge declared in his judgment read by the court’s deputy registrar Justine Atukwansa, that the couple’s marriage was over and both parties should take separate ways, but the custody of their two children was left to their mother. However, Oulanyah will have access to the children upon a prior notice to visit them.
The court also ordered Mr Oulanyah to pay a monthly maintenance fee of $690 (Shs2.5m) for the children who live with their mother in San Diego, California in the US. The money will cater for the children’s clothing, food, gas and utilities.
The year also witnessed the commencement of the trial of former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen in connection with the two-decade armed rebellion in northern Uganda.
While appearing before The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) on the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, the ex-child soldier told court that his trial before the ICC is violation of the international laws and his human rights because he was abducted as a child at the age of nine and half years.
The expanded charges against Mr Ongwen also include sexual and gender-based crimes committed from 2002 to 2005 in LRA Sinia Brigade – forced marriage, rape, torture, sexual slavery, and enslavement – and the conscription and use of children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities from 2002 to 2005 in Sinia Brigade.
The actual trial starts on January 16 before The Hague-based ICC with the prosecution expected to start bringing witnesses to testify against Ongwen.
Rwenzururu king, 150 royal guards charged
This year in court could not be wrapped without mentioning the arrest and eventual charging of Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere before Jinja Chief Magistrates Court over the Kasese clashes that saw more than 100 of his royal guards and policemen killed.
The king, who is currently on remand at Luzira prison, is facing charges including treason, terrorism, murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery and malicious damage to property.
He is jointly charged with more than 150 of his royal guards with some still nursing fresh wounds following a joint raid on his palace by the police and army on November 27, 2016.
Gen Sejusa spends two months in jail
The year did not start well for former spy chief David Sejusa as he was arrested ahead of the February polls and remanded to Luzira prison for close two months.
Gen Sejusa was charged with several charges, including absence without official leave, participating in political activities and insubordination.
While out on bail, Sejusa challenged his trial before the military court with the High Court concurring with him that he is no longer a serving UPDF officer having been ‘constructively discharged’ by the conduct of his employer, the army, to deny him a salary, allowances and refusing to deploy him for close to one and half years.
Presiding judge Margaret Oguli Oumo also ordered government to give him all his salary arrears, allowances, terminal benefits and Shs750m as damages for humiliating and violating his rights through arrest, detention, prosecution and denial of bail before the General Court Martial.
But the Attorney General has since formally appealed this High Court ruling before the Court of Appeal which is now pending hearing.
Baguma remanded over murder, released
Also, the year witnessed the charging of former DPC of Kampala Central Police Station, Mr Aaron Baguma, before Buganda Road Court over alleged murder of businesswoman Donah Betty Katusabe. The senior police officer is jointly charged with car dealer Muhammed Ssebuwufu and five other suspects still on remand pending trial. Both Mr Baguma and Mr Ssebuwufu were released on bail.