Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Hearing of a criminal case filled by jailed city lawyer Male Mabirizi against three top security officers for issuing a shoot-to-kill order on all aggravated robbery suspects failed to take off before the Mukono Grade I magistrate, Paul Matyama on Monday.
In July 2022, Mabirizi instituted criminal proceedings against Edward Ochom, the retired Director of Operations in the Uganda Police Force, Stephen Tanui, the Kampala Metropolitan Area Police Commander, and Col. Fred Mwesigye, the commandant of UPDF’s operation Tokora.
In his application which was earlier dismissed by Mukono Grade I magistrate Paul Matyama in July 2022, on grounds that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case, Mabirizi wanted the court to charge the trio with derogation of a nonderogable right and freedom guaranteed under the constitution contrary to the Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2019.
He claimed that on June 29, 2022, while in Mukono district, the trio ordered their juniors to shoot and kill any person suspected of engaging in aggravated robbery without recording statements from them or producing them before courts of law thereby derogating the right to a fair hearing.
Dissatisfied with the decision, Mabirizi filed an application at the High Court in Mukono in August 2022, in which he asked the court to exercise its power to supervise the Magistrate’s court to dismiss its ruling on the case for lack of jurisdiction, reinstate the case and summon the accused to appear before the chief magistrate’s court.
The matter is still pending hearing at the High court in Mukono. He also filed another application under section 42(1) (c) of the Magistrate’s Court Act instituting charges against the trio on the counts of incitement to commit an offense punishable with a death penalty contrary to section 21(1) of the penal code act, common nuisance contrary to section 16 (1) of the penal code act, cap 120 and disobedience of statutory duty contrary to section 116 of the penal code act, cap 120.
He asked the court to issue criminal summons against the trio to answer the charges, which attract a maximum of 10 years imprisonment. Mabirizi also asked the court to issue a production warrant directing Uganda Prisons Services to produce him physically before the Mukono magistrate’s Court to enable him to prosecute the case properly.
The lawyer is currently serving 18 months at Luzira Upper-Security Prison handed to him by High Court Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana for contempt of court on February 15, 2022. The trio’s troubles started when video footage aired on various news channels showing them, saying that they are fed up with robbers and wanted them shot on-site before inquiries are conducted to establish how they acquired the firearms.
The officers made the comment in a security meeting held days after robbers attacked Spice Supermarket in Mukono district where they shot the cashier, Irene Nakandi, and made off with an unspecified amount of money. However, the case couldn’t proceed since the accused officers didn’t turn and neither delegated their lawyers to represent them at the court on Monday. As a result, the magistrate adjourned to February 13, 2023, to allow the accused person to appear.