First things first, how did you meet Bobi Wine?
A human rights NGO asked me to help him when arrested in Arua. As torture was involved, I sent a lawyer the next day. Simon Wolfe.
Is Bobi Wine paying you to represent him?
I don’t discuss money when torture is involved. I have suffered personally from oppression which is why the narrative of the government is so funny. Their statements about me are not only lies but they are incredibly stupid. How can I be a Western [agent] when I often represent Western critics?
And what reason would you have for representing Western critics?
The West has been a mess for Africa. The focus on terrorism and the funding of armies is contrary to our interests as Africans. I am sorry if you look at me [and] I don’t look African, but Africa is within me and my children as I have been in Nigeria off and on since I was a boy.
Talking of interests of countries, you have been accused of being a Western agent
Not at all. I won the global prize for pro bono advocacy for my work against the UN where they abused a leading African expert. Instead the government tries to paint me as some Western agent. I am the farthest thing from that.
You have been accused of destabilising governments…
It’s a complete fabrication. I was asked to help Bobi by a human rights organisation. The fabrications in some recent articles in Uganda are just laughable.
Why represent Bobi Wine for free?
He is an incredible, talented charismatic emblem of African youth. He is a phenomenon to be embraced. We need to understand our youth is our only resource. I agree with Bobi. It’s not about him, it’s about the people. People power is what we all must embrace. It is a way to embrace change and economic and political growth.
You have previously represented high profile politicians from around the world. How different is Bobi Wine’s case?
Very different. None of my other clients were tortured. Uganda is somewhat similar to my work in Thailand.
What happened in Thailand?
Ninety eight [people were] murdered in cold blood during the Bangkok Massacre [in 2010]. I took them to ICC [International Criminal Court] and were charged with defaming the army. Very tricky.
You represented former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was accused of abuses, including murders by his government. Isn’t this a contradiction for a person who says he stands for human rights?
It is a phony fact. Thaksin took 25 per cent of the populace out of poverty. He is a hero to the Thai people which is why the military came up with bogus challenges.
During your maiden press conference with Bobi Wine in Washington recently, you seemed to ask investors to rethink doing business with Uganda. Don’t you think this jeopardises the lives of millions of Ugandan’s who benefit from these foreign investors?
No. The army jeopardises their lives. The government through its use of violence destabilises the country. I am simply a lawyer.
You want the US to stop giving military aid to Uganda. Can’t this be looked at as to a move to weaken the UPDF’s capability to defend the nation, and to protect Uganda’s vital national interests?
You are kidding right? The army needs training not more ammo. Right now they need to stop being deployed against their own citizens.
How would you rate the Bobi case in regard to the other cases you have been handling?
The government seems to have no real programmes for urban youth and development. They need to challenge themselves. It is at the end about serving the people of Uganda and Africa.
What do you think Uganda’s problem is?
Government must be an engine of hope and opportunity. The government seems more interested in serving foreign masters than its own people.
What do you mean by serving foreign masters?
The positioning of troops in neighbouring countries.
Finally, has Bobi Wine told you if he will stand for presidency in 2021?
Absolutely not even discussed. The man was horribly brutalised. He is focused on simply defending basic rights within Uganda.