Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | At least 44 supporters of National Unity Platform have been remanded to Kitalya Government prison on offenses of unlawfully wearing uniforms similar to those exclusively gazetted for the country’s armed forces.
The accused including men and women were on Friday afternoon arraigned before City Hall Court Senior Grade One Magistrate Valerian Tuhimbise where they were charged with two offenses.
The group is charged with unlawfully wearing uniforms declared to be for the exclusive use of persons performing in the armed forces of Uganda and disobedience of lawful orders.
Court heard that the accused persons on October 14 2020 in Kamokya in Kampala District, not being persons serving in any of three armed forces of the country were found either wearing or in possession of uniforms or dresses bearing parts or having the appearance of close resemblance of the security agencies.
The three armed forces are; The Uganda Prisons Services, Uganda People’s Defense Forces and Uganda Police Force.
The said attires that were found with NUP supporters reportedly had distinctive marks of the said armed forces’ uniforms such as lanyards, pips and berets in a manner that is most likely to bring contempt on that uniform.
It is alleged that the accused persons disobeyed presidential orders on prevention of Covid-19 pandemic by gathering in large numbers in Kamokya without observing social distance.
The accused persons who appeared in batches of ten people in court all denied the charges.
They told court that they never disobeyed the president’s orders but instead, it’s police which did .
Court heard that the police officers are the ones who picked the accused persons from various places in Kamwokya before bringing them together in one place without observing social distancing.
The prosecution however told court that investigations into this matter are still on going.
The accused person’s lawyers led by Anthony Wameli attempted to apply for bail but the Magistrate Tuhimbise told them that the numbers were very many and there wouldn’t be social distancing to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
Tuhimbise later remanded the women to Kigo Prison and men to Kitalya prison until October 23 2020.
Court proceedings went on amidst heavy joint security deployment and gates of the KCCA were closed for non-staff members until the courts ended.
Hundreds of NUP supporters were gathered outside court as those remanded screamed for justice and safety inside police trucks saying they will continue supporting change of leadership in the country.
The accused persons were arrested on Wednesday from National Unity Platform headquarters in Kamwokya following a joint security operation aimed at looking for attires resembling those of the army.
NUP has since complained that several documents including those that had signatures nominating their leader Kyagulanyi for presidenti were taken during the broad day raid.
On September 18 2019, UPDF published in the National Gazette marks, accessories, insignia decorations and Uniform that the civilians are not supposed to wear. These gazetted marks included those that resemble their uniforms like pips, berets among others.