Mbale, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Court in Mbale has indefinitely suspended a case in which the National Unity Platform-NUP party president, Robert Kyagulanyi sued top security officials there for blocking his radio talk show on BCU FM.
The Mbale Grade One Magistrate, Andrew Katumbuki adjourned the case on Wednesday morning citing noncompliance with the Covid-19 standard operating procedures in court.
Katumbuki said there were so many people in court which undermines the social distancing aspect of preventing the spread of Covid-19. Kyagulanyi ran to court after the security officials blocked his radio talk show on the Mbale city based BCU FM three weeks ago.
Through his lawyers of Wameli & Co. Advocates, Kyagulanyi contends that the actions of the respondents, their agents and those who acted under them are not acceptable or demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.
Last week, Katumbuki summoned the respondents to the suit including Mbale Resident District Commissioner Sulaiman Ogajjo Barasa, Mbale District Police Commander Fred Ahimbisibwe and District Internal Security Officer-DISO George Mwondah and Elgon Region Police Commander Wesely Nganizi among others to appear for cross examination after Kyagulanyi’s lawyer Medard Lubega Ssegona told court that the respondents had served them late with their defense.
The respondents turned up in court as directed but the magistrate declined to hear the case on grounds that the court was filled to capacity contrary to the Health Ministry guidelines. He faulted the applicants for failing to control large gatherings in court.
He adjourned the matter indefinitely saying the applicant’s lawyer will apply for a fresh hearing date when the country normalizes.
However, Kyagulanyi’s lead lawyer Anthony Wameli said his client shouldn’t pay the price for people loving him. He asked the magistrate to prevail over security organs that have kept on causing chaos and transfer the blame to his client.
Wameli said that they will petition higher authorities to ensure their matter is heard and disposed off urgently.
Medard Lubega Ssegona wondered why court adjourned the case without setting the next hearing date.
He also faulted the magistrate for saying the matter will be heard when the corona situation normalizes, saying no one knows when this will end.
Peter Masaba, the Counsel for the State welcomed court’s decision but hastened to add that they also want court to dispose off the matter expeditiously.
Robert Kyagulanyi said courts are under siege that is why the magistrate refused to hear their case.