By Morris DC Komakech
In the Bantariza case, one wonders why the State failed to establish facts by providing basic empirical evidence
It is not clear whether the media selectively focuses attention on court cases where the prosecutors perform dismally. There have been many high profile cases involving corruption, treason, defilement, murder and so forth that have collapsed in the face of scrutiny to the detriment of the taxpayers. These cases have portrayed a bad image of the office of the Prosecutor. It is now seen as incompetent and partisan to regime’s political adversaries.
A good example is that of opposition FDC stalwart Dr. Kizza Besigye who has faced a multitude of kitchen sink cases. Dr Besigye has been accused of every transgression under the sun, from treason, rape, assault and others, to the point that the Police even revised an old colonial era law based on prediction of crime to maliciously violate Besigye’s fundamental rights to associate, and his inherent liberty as a citizen.
In all these cases, Dr. Besigye has emerged triumphant, unscathed. These demonstrate that the Police and the Prosecutors have found cases where none existed. Take for example the death of Butaleja MP, Cerina Nebanda. The prosecutors could not convince a Judge, leave alone swaying public opinion on the matter that someone, other than Nebanda’s boyfriend, overdosed her. The UPDF soldier in Luzira, who returned from Somalia and sprayed his girlfriend with bullets over infidelity, killing her instantly along with her friends in public view walked out too.
In most high profile cases involving regime personalities, only Lydia Draru, so far, was effectively convicted, over the death of the former Army Commander Maj. Gen. James Kazini, moreover on weak evidence. Seemingly, the public is convinced of Draru’s culpability and innocence. It is the rule that all those who cannot afford lawyers are guilty; some even on wrong charges!
This article was conceptualised after a thorough reflection on the matter of justice in Uganda. It questions the performance of the Office of the Prosecutor, the competence of the Uganda Police, and more-so, the essence of the Criminal Investigation Department in fighting crime.
The role of the Police in solving crime or perpetuating it is suspect. Little wonder then, that there is an escalation of apathy and contempt towards the justice system as a whole, leading to mob justice.
This is only a part of an on-going public debate about this matter which must be sustained. Many authorities have already pronounced themselves on the dire state in which our justice system operates. But what is so disturbing is that institutionalised corruption has proven to be harder to fight because the mechanisms that are in place to fight it have themselves become amenable agents’ provocateur of the very vice.
I particularly took interest in Col. Shaban Bantariza’s case that ended with an acquittal. The way the Prosecutor handled that case was disturbing to even legal lay minds. For public interest, that lead Prosecutor should be relieved of his duties on ground of incompetence.
It is unfortunate but no one can comprehend how almost all the state prosecutors come across as incompetent and least committed to public interest. Could it be that the environment in which they work makes them incomplete and therefore incompetent?
Ineptitude has transformed the image of otherwise honorable, intelligent lawyers like former AG Peter Nyombi into that of a public nuisance.
In the Bantariza case, one wonders why the State failed to establish facts by providing basic empirical evidence(s) on the matter in question. The hypothesis to be proved had two fundamental premises; whether Ministry of Finance donated the said tractor to NALI or not and; whether Akamba Motors Inc., received payment for the tractor from NALI or MOF for the said tractor. How on earth could seasoned prosecutors fail on such a fundamental of evidences?
At the end, the people of Uganda are watching anxiously and weighing the trustworthiness of the Judiciary, the Police, and CID. The common and sad conclusion is that justice exists only for those who can afford it. For the average citizen and taxpayers, it is not yet Uhuru!
Ironically though, the very system is so efficient at executing perceived adversaries of the regime with precision.
Morris Komakech is a social critic and political analyst from Pajule, Pader, Uganda. Can contact via firstname.lastname@example.org