KAMPALA: The Buganda Road Magistrates’ Court has released nine students from different universities who were sent to Luzira Prison last week for being a nuisance to the public.
The students are:
Imran Ntabazi, a student at Gulu University, David Musiri and Vincent Lubega Nsamba from Makerere University, and six Kyambogo University students named Gerald Wenani, Gonga Akisi, Marktom Kajubi, Benjamin Akiso, Alphonse Nkuruziza, and Alex Waswa Lyazi.
They have been granted a cash bail of 100,000 shillings, and their sureties, who include parents, fellow students, and environmentalists, have been asked to execute a non-cash bond of 5 million shillings each by the Grade One Magistrate, Fidelis Otwao.
The lawyers for the students, led by Eron Kiiza, were able to get bail after making a strong case for it.
Kiiza has told the court that the people who are being charged are students who want to go back to their schools and keep studying, and that the court where they are being charged can let them out on bail.
It is said that students dressed in university gowns and carrying signs and banners calling for a stop to the oil pipeline project last week were loud and blocked walkways around the Crested Towers in Kampala City as they held a protest with a petition they were going to deliver to the European Union offices in support of the EU resolution.
The resolution asked government to halt the EACOP project until safeguards are implemented to stop human rights violations and environmental degradation.
But while applying for the students’ bail, Kiiza has argued that it’s their constitutional right to seek temporary freedom, adding that they have substantial sureties, whom he ably explained the duties of being a surety, such as making sure that the accused return to court for trial, and they seemed to have understood.
Kiiza thus asked the court to release them on a reasonable amount of money, arguing that his clients did not have any source of income since they are students who largely depend on their parents and guardians for survival.
It’s against this background that the Magistrate, Otwao, has ordered a bail amount of 100,000 shillings cash and adjourned the case to October 25th, 2022 for mention.
Trouble for the students started last week as they were going to deliver a petition to the European Union offices in Kampala to support their resolution to delay the 3.5 billion dollar oil pipeline project, which will transport crude oil from the Albertine region of Uganda to Tanzania’s seaport of Tanga.
They were arrested by police and taken to the Central Police Station in Kampala. From there, they were taken to Luzira Prison, where they have been for the past six days.
The nine students were arrested a few days after students from different schools who were part of the Uganda Students Association marched through Kampala and Hoima streets with brass bands and police to protest the same resolution.
Since the project started in 2021, it has been at the center of a lot of controversy over things like the delay in paying people affected by the project and the secrecy surrounding the host government agreement for the pipeline, the Tariff and Transportation Agreement, and the Share Holding Agreement signed between Uganda and Tanzania.
But the President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, has since indicated that the project will go on as planned.