Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Director of Public Prosecutions has filed new terrorism charges against eleven supporters of the National Unity Platform (NUP) who were previously arrested with materials for manufacturing improvised explosives in Kawempe and Matuga.
The suspects are Abdul Katumba, a businessman from Nabweru North One Zone in Nansana Municipality; Abdallah Katumba, a resident of Growers Zone in Kawempe; Hamidu Ssekidde, also a businessman; Muhamud Kalyango from Tula; Wilber Kairugala from Kibwa Zone; Sulaiman Male, also known as Kyewalabye, a resident of Lwadsa A Zone in Gombe Division.
The others are Hamidu Muyobi, a carpenter from Jinja Karoli; Issa Makumbi, also a carpenter; Umar Magala, a personal assistant to the Executive Secretary for Works and Physical Planning at KCCA and resident of Kakungulu Zone; and Resty Birungi Nabbosa, a peasant and resident of Busakya Village in Matuga Gombe Division. Initially charged with the unlawful manufacture of ammunition, the group appeared in court on Tuesday to apply for bail and receive an update on the investigation.
However, to their surprise, the prosecution amended the charge sheet, introducing a new charge of terrorism, which can only be tried by the High Court. According to the amended charges, the prosecution alleges that on May 7th, 2023, in Nabweru North Zone, Nansana Municipality, the eleven suspects committed acts of terrorism by purchasing and manufacturing improvised explosive devices (petrol bombs) without regard for the safety of others.
The purpose of these acts was to intimidate the public or influence the government for political, social, religious, or economic gain. The Chief Magistrate, Nambuya, explained that she lacks jurisdiction to allow the accused persons to plead to the charges since they can only be tried by the High Court. She consequently remanded them to Luzira prisons until June 20th, 2023, with the advice to apply for bail before the High Court if they choose to do so.
The defense lawyers, led by Shamin Malende and Luyimbazi Nalukoola, expressed their dissatisfaction with the amendment of the charges. This case is not the only one involving NUP supporters facing charges related to the possession of improvised explosives. Another group of 32 NUP supporters is currently facing trial in the General Court Martial for unlawful possession of ammunition.
The group, arrested in May 2021, is accused of being in illegal possession of 13 explosive devices, which are typically under the control of the defense forces. The alleged crime took place between November 2020 and May 2021 in various areas, including Jinja, Mbale, Kireka, Nakulabye, Kawempe, Natete, and Kampala Central.