Friday March 11 2016

Get to the bottom of raid on lawyers’ offices

The breaking into the offices of lawyers Mohammad Mbabazi and Fred Muwema, both representing former presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi on Tuesday night, was dreadful.

In the raid, doors and windows and both electronic and paper copies of documents were vandalised.

These ransacking acts point to deliberate sabotage and subversion of the search for justice through constitutional means.

While Mr Mbabazi and lawyers are categorical that the police agents were complicit, the Police have been categorical in their denial of any connection with the break-in.

But what is worrying is the timing of the burglary, coming hours before the petitioners were expected to file affidavits to strengthen their petition asking for cancellation of the February 18 presidential elections, which had Mr Museveni declared winner.

Irrespective of the claims and counter claims advanced to explain who was and who was not responsible for plundering, nothing should divert the due process of the electoral petition and pursuit of justice in the law courts.

As several voices have chorused, Ugandans expect a full and thorough investigation into the alleged break-ins, the culprits apprehended, prosecuted and sentenced.

This will alley any claims of persecution, and or sabotage, and or self-destruction in pursuit of electoral justice.

This is precisely why claims by Mr Mbabazi and team that 13 of their witnesses have been arrested by security agencies should be taken up. The Go Forward team should also be tasked to table evidence of their claims and the issues investigated and quickly resolved. This is because preparation, collection and submission of evidence and production of witnesses are critical in this petition.

This recourse to the highest legal authority in the land to sort out the electoral dispute underscores the undying faith of Ugandans in the supremacy of law courts.

This is why the move by the police to appoint a special investigations team is well-timed but digging into the break-ins and outcome of the probe should be published quickly.

Moreover, an urgent resolution of this issue is dictated by the 30-day constitutional limit within which the petition should be disposed of.

This is why all parties to the case in the Supreme Court should be accorded the space and freedom to prepare and present their cases without duress.

Only when this conducive atmosphere is enforced can this petition and responses be seen to be treated, presented, and heard fairly and impartiality.

These ingredients are critical to guaranteeing the integrity of the presidential election petition and rendering the Supreme Court verdict legitimate and acceptable to all.