Court halts Bobi Wine’s trial

By Sania Babirye

Buganda road court has halted the trial of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi on charges of holding an illegal assembly over OTT tax until the constitutional court determines his petition in which he is challenging the said charge of disobeying statutory orders.

Grade one magistrate Karungi Doreen temporary halted the said trial after referring the said case to the constitutional court for interpretation.

In February this year, Bobiwine’s lawyers led by Anthony Wameeli informed court that they had filed the said petition in the constitutional court and that it is pending determination .

According to Bobiwine, the said charge under the Public order management act 2013 is illegal since it is being challenged by the Uganda Law Society.

He adds that the said charge should be interpreted by the constitutional court whether it does not infringe on the rights of Ugandan to assemble.

The court has now ordered Kyagulanyi to keep reporting back to court until the constitutional court determines his application.

She also issued criminal summons to Bobiwine who was not present in court but his defense informed court that he was away on official duties in his constituency.

Bobiwine is charged together with his Body guard Ssebuwufu Edward aka Eddie Mutwe, his brother Nyanzi Fred Ssentamu and a one David Lule.

These are accused with disobedience of Statutory Duty ; an offence they allegedly committed on on 11th of July 2018 at City Square along Kampala road in protest of social media and Mobile Money Tax.

Prosecution states that the suspects offended sections of the order management Act of 2013, by holding a public meeting without giving notice to any authorized officer, and refusing to cooperate with police, to ensure that all participants are peaceful and not armed.

Bobi Wine fails to show up in court again

BY Sania Babirye

Prosecution with it’s four witnesses have been left puzzled in court today after Kyadondo East Member of parliament Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu for the third time failed to turn up in court for his illegal protest case over OTT in July 2018.

On the 16th of August, Buganda road court grade one magistrate Katty Joan Acaa adjourned the matter to today because state did not have any witness available in court to testify on top of Bobi wine also being absent and adjourned the hearing to today .

However, today state led by Kyomugisha Barbra came ready to pin Kyagulanyi and his other co accused over the charge only for his lawyer Abdullah Kiwanuka informing court again that his client was again away in Kenya on official duties.

The prosecution witnesses that were ready to pin Kyagulanyi include ASP Bakaleke Joseph, corporal Joram Ndyahabwe,ASP cadet Ojakola Ochan and ASP Kulaigye Edgar who are all police officers .

And as a result, the magistrate has given Bobiwine one more chance and adjourned the matter to the 28th of October warning Bobiwine to not miss again or faces being Issued with a warrant of arrest.

Bobiwine is jointly charged with his brother Fred Nyanzi, his body guard Edward Sebuufu aka Eddy Mutwe, Julius Katongole and David Lule

In July this year, further criminal summons were issued against Bobi Wine after he failed to turn up in court. The magistrate also ordered the state to avail the defense team with all their alleged evidences against the accused including the alleged exhibits . On the 2nd of May, Buganda road court grade one magistrate Esther Nahirya granted bail to Bobiwine via a video conferencing system.

Bobi wine became the first person to be tried using the new technology that was launched by the chief justice Bart Katureebe on the 15th of April this year to allow judges to try inmates without necessarily being present in court but through a video link in Luzira prison.

Bobi wine was remanded to Luzira prison on 29th of this month by grade one magistrate Esther Nahirya afrer he was charged and pleaded not guilty to offenses relating to disobedience of statutory duty .

The magistrate also failed to grant him bail and refereed his bail application to the 2nd of May.

His lawyers led by Asuman told court that his sureties had been blocked to access court with some arrested and detained at Nagalama police station in Mukono in case of Hon.Francis Zaake while others had their documents like local council letters confiscated by police.

The magistrate then ruled that Bobi wine should be remanded briefly to allow his lawyers organize their sureties and the magistrate also advised them from bringing high profile sureties that attract too much attention.

According to the amended charge sheet tendered in court , Bobi Wine was surprisingly charged over offenses he committed in 2018.

The charges are apparently in relation to his protest over the now social media tax (OTT) which he is said to have allegedly committed on 11th of July 2018 at City square with in Kampala city.

Bobiwine is accused of holding a public meeting without giving notice to any authorized officer or police who would ensure that all participants of his meeting are unarmed and peaceful .

Prosecution states that the actions of Bobi Wine were contrary to sections 5 and 10 of the public Order Management Act of 2013.

However before accepting to go on remand, Bobi Wine addressed and in his own words he said:

“Your honor I am confident because it is not me on trial but this court on trial because I have not committed any crime. I have not stolen public funds or killed anyone. I am here because I have spoken against this government and specifically president Museveni. Your honor i am here brcause i have spoken against unfair taxation so i am fighting for everyone and for you”.

Leader of opposition did also criticize reasons cited by state while objecting to the bail application of Bobiwine.

This is after state prosecutor Timothy Francis Amerit told court that sureties like Hon.Miria Matembe were insubstantial since she was of advanced age of 64 and not capable to feasibly compel Bobiwine to adhere to court orders.

However, the leader of Opposition said that it was ironical that the State recently just amended the constitution and lifted the presidential age limit to allow even a person of over 100 years to rule the country yet,the state is objecting a person of 64 years to only stand surety.

Other opposition politicians like Allan Sewanyana criticized what they called a move by the judiciary to impose the video link conferencing for his bail application.

Ssewanyana claimed that the judiciary had violated the procedures of the video conferencing since it was the suspect who requests it through its lawyers but instead, the judiciary imposed it on Bobiwine without allowing him to give his opinion on whether he wanted his application to be heard via a video link.

Meanwhile Hon. Kyagulanyi Robert also did address court for the second time before the court pronounced itself on his bail application.

In his own words, Bobiwine said: “I thank you for this opportunity to address court. It is not we on trial but the court. Whatever you decide isn’t my business. My business is the truth, what is morally right… If standing for what is right is going to keep me in this prison, so be it. After all I have a lot of work to do, even here in prison”.

His legal team led by Asuman Basalirwa asked court to grant him a non cash bail on grounds that Bobiwine willingly subjected himself to the legal process and that he is neither on criminal summons or warrant of arrest.

Basalirwa also argued that the charges preferred against Kyagulanyi did not involve any violence because the main reason he was arrested even the state realized its significance and revised the OTT tax which means he was on the right cause for everyone including state.

He added that that Hon .Kyagulanyi was a peaceful man and had never been convicted of any offense under any courts of law and that through his music career, he had been helping police to fight crime.

He added that Hon.Kyagulanyi was a family man with four children and a young wife and that he was not a flight risk because he is an MP representing the people of Kyadondo East on top of being a sole bread winner for his tender family.

Asuman Basalirwa also presented three sureties including Hon.Miria Matembe whom he said is a personal friend of Bobiwine in the struggle,42 year old NRM Member of Parliament for Kasambya county Hon.Mbwa Tekamwa Dog and Hon.Nsamba Patrick of Kasanda East who is Bobiwine’s neighbor and also a colleague.

In reply prosecution objected to Bobiwine’s bail application on grounds that his sureties were not substantial.

State prosecutor Timothy Francis Amerit told court that one of the Surety Hon. Miria Matembe was of advanced age of 64 and therefor not feasibly capable to compel Bobiwine to adhere to court orders.

Amerit also objected to the two MPs on grounds that the two MPs were are equals to Bobiwine and as a result had no legitimate authority over him including forcing him to return before court among other grounds.


Court to hear OTT case today

By Sania Babirye
The constitutional court is today hearing a petition seeking to declare the introduced  Over The Top service (OTT) tax null and void.
In July this year, five Ugandans calling themselves the concerned citizen and a technological company ; Cyber law Initiative  petitioned  the Constitutional court seeking  orders to declare it unlawful.
The petitioners led by a one  Daniel Opio sued government through the Uganda Communication commission and attorney General in which they are  accusing Uganda Communications Commission  of giving an enabling environment for Uganda Revenue Authority to collect the 200 shillings  daily tax from all internet users to be able to access social media sites like Facebook, whatsapp among other social media sites.
The group wants the attorney General to explain why  Government does not offer free internet services to citizens and instead impose on them a politically motivated tax which hinders the  freedom of speech, economic growth , innovation and affects on-line media yet it was passed with no meaningful public participation.
They further explain that the social media tax will be a hindrance to job seekers who use social media and also those who are dealing on online businesses.
The new social media tax commenced in July this year and internet users pay  200 shillings daily, 1400 weekly and 6000 monthly to be able to access social media sites despite subscribing to  internet  bundles.