KAMPALA: The Buganda Road Chief Magistrates’ Court has said that city lawyer Julius Galisonga was mistakenly called to take a plea in a case against Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, a satirical novelist.
A letter from Uganda Radio Network says that the court called Galisonga to take a plea instead of calling him to appear and explain why he shouldn’t be arrested for not bringing Kakwenza to court, even though he was his surety.
It was March 23, 2022, when the chief magistrate of Buganda Road Court in Uganda, Dr. Douglas Singiza, ordered the arrest of Kakwenza after he failed to show up for a meeting. He had been charged with offensive communication.
Kakwenza is accused of using his Twitter handle @KakwenzaRukira to post a series of tweets about President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his son, Lt. General Muhoozi Kainerugaba. In one of the tweets, Kakwenza refers to the President as an election thief, and in another, he calls Muhoozi overweight and intellectually bankrupt.
However, the last time Kakwenza was expected in court on March 23rd, 2022, he didn’t turn up and neither did his four sureties. Kakwenza’s sureties were Lawyer Galisonga, David Lewis Rubongoya, the Secretary-General for the National Unity Platform, Annah Ashaba, a teacher at Kololo High School, and Job Kiija, who were Kakwenza’s sureties.
As a result, the court issued a warrant of arrest against Kakwenza and issued criminal summons to his sureties, requiring them to appear before the court on April 11th, 2022, and explain why an arrest warrant shouldn’t be issued against them for failure to produce the accused in court.
But the court document that was sent to Galisonga instead commanded him to appear and be answerable to charges of offensive communication.
As a result, Galisonga’s lawyers, led by Eron Kiiza, on April 5th, 2022, wrote to the Chief Magistrate, Dr. Singiza, asking him to make available a certified copy of the signed and sanctioned charge sheet spelling out the particulars of the offence against their client. They also asked the court to give them the full documents, materials, and evidence the state intends to rely on in the case against Galisonga.
This part of the letter reads in part: “We ask for the information before April 11, 2022, so that our client can prepare his defence in accordance with Article 28 of the 1995 Constitution.”
But in response to a letter dated April 6, 2022, Dr. Singiza has sent Galisonga a new summons and told him and his lawyers not to pay attention to any mistakes in the first summons, which he said they should not pay attention to.
“This is to inform you that the summons was intended to show cause why a warrant of arrest should not be issued against sureties for Kakwenza Rukirabashaija. There are no formal criminal charges against Galisonga Julius. Please ignore any errors in the earlier summons. Please find the fresh summons against the three sureties, “reads the feedback.
When contacted by Galisonga’s lawyer, Kiiza, for a comment on the matter, he noted that the evil intention is clear, but the methodology is what they are pondering.
“How can a chief magistrate make such an error of issuing criminal summons, signing them, and indicating an offence Galisonga has allegedly committed and then pretending it is an error after we ask for the charge?” said Kiiza. He added that all this is in bad faith and that they want to arrest sureties to intimidate people who stand as sureties for government critics.