Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Four people who were charged with offensive communication have petitioned the Director of Public Prosecutions to withdraw charges against them citing a lack of evidence.
The four are businessman Francis Matovu commonly known as Butto, National Unity Platform Secretary for Mobilization in Eastern Uganda Moses Bigirwa, and journalists Pidson Kareire and Moses Mugalula.
It’s alleged that the four in November 2021 while in Kampala, willfully and repeatedly used electronic communication on WhatsApp to post content offensive in nature titled, “Museveni to remove Deputy Speaker Anita Among over Corruption”, “Anita Among in trouble over intelligence which includes bribes from Roko Construction, bribe from Kingdom property deal and using Internal Security Organization-ISO to con and ransom investors, conning Indians of USD 400k”.
According to the state, the document was done with no purpose or legitimate communication but only to disturb the peace and privacy of Among who was then the Deputy Speaker of Parliament. But the accused denied the charges and were released on bail.
However, in their petition to the DPP Jane Frances Abodo which Uganda Radio Network has seen, the suspects say that it is unfortunate that they were arrested and arraigned in court despite a lack of sufficient evidence to warrant the prosecution and this has reportedly been manifested in court.
They say that in the last five court appearances, the prosecution has always stated unbelievable reasons because the police took away their phones and a laptop for investigations, and the report accompanying the petition shows that they are not suspects as alleged.
“Further, in our complaint letter, we indicated to your office that there was weak evidence and several issues regarding the investigations and the intended prosecution ought to be stopped on the grounds that the outcome has already been predetermined. With such prosecution weakness, there is a total breach of procedure regarding evidence and a lot of fabricating and or exaggerating facts to find a probable cause”, argues the petitioners.
The petitioners say that there is a need to prevent abuse of the legal process but the DPP on September 7th, 2022 directed that the file proceeds to trial even when there is no sufficient evidence against them.
“Whereas, this is against your oath to represent, stand for the truth and serve the innocent citizens of this county as by law established, because for sure we are innocent and there is reasonable apprehension that a fair decision was not taken by yourself but it was influenced by the complainant Rt. Hon Anita Among,“ adds the petition.
They now want the DPP to recall the file and her decision to be revisited or revised and the file is closed arguing that there is no single evidence to warrant their prosecution other than costing them as petitioners’ expenses and wasting the court’s time.
They maintain their innocence on the basis that they have never originated the document because they are also social media users like the DPP and any other person.
“Thirdly we pray that you remain independent and you avoid being used and influenced by government officials to fulfill their selfish desires and personal interests against innocent citizens like us,” adds the petition jointly signed by the accused persons.
State Attorney Caroline Marion Acio argues that they have perused the file in line with the complaint and resolved that the case may proceed in court to its logical conclusion.
She wants the Director CID to complete the pending investigations so that the prosecution can fix the matter for hearing and she advises the accused persons to prepare to defend themselves saying the legal due process shall be followed.
Matovu sued Anita Among and the government seeking compensation over torture that was inflicted on him while in the custody prior to his arraignment in court over these charges he wants to be dropped.
But Matovu lost the case in the High Court and he has since filed an appeal which is pending in the Court of Appeal.