Kampala- The General Court Martial in a surprise move yesterday dropped the gun charges against Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, but later it emerged that the military court was acting upon a directive from another government authority.
At about 10.30am, the General Court Martial sat at the army’s 4th Division headquarters in Gulu for the trial of Bobi Wine who had been charged with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
However, as the court chairperson, Lt Gen Andrew Gutti, got ready for the proceedings, the army prosecutor, Maj Raphael Mugisha dropped a bombshell. He declared that the state had dropped charges of possession of illegal fire arms and ammunition against Bobi Wine.
“I have instructions that the proceedings before this court, under Regulation 65 of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces Procedure, be terminated and the accused person (Bobi Wine) be handed to police,” Maj Mugisha submitted.
He was acting upon the instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Justice Mike Chibita.
In his directive, Mr Chibita told the military court that it was prudent to drop the gun charges against Bobi Wine since he was to face a treason charge in another court but based on similar facts. Mr Chibita said it would be double jeopardy for Bobi Wine to be subjected to separate trials in the military court and the civil court on cases based on similar facts.
“...Please consider letting Hon Sentamu face trial in the High Court rather than before the Court Martial,” Justice Chibita stated in his letter to the army.
However, Bobi Wine’s lawyer Medard Sseggona objected to the proposal to hand the MP to the police to face treason charges.
“The moment charges are withdrawn against a person, he becomes free. The gentleman seated before you was arrested by the army, beaten and had his rights violated. The prosecution is using this forum to sanitise other violations by asking you to hand him to police. There is no record in this court that Hon Kyagulanyi is a wanted man by police,” Mr Sseggona said.
He added: “Our prayer is to have Hon Kyagulanyi declared a free man and we take him for medication. Hon Kyagulanyi is an MP representing Kyadondo East constituency, he is not a fugitive and has a fixed place of abode.
If there is a need to arrest him, there is a procedure for arresting MPs. Do not accept the temptation to being used to settle political scores.”
After listening to submissions, Lt Gen Gutti adjourned the court for 10 minutes to give his ruling.
“This court, having received an application from counsel from the state to the effect that the accused person (Mr Kyagulanyi) is required in the civil court to be tried with other accused persons basing on the same facts as charged, the defence [lawyers] said the proceedings in this court be terminated and accused be set free,” he observed.
“This court has noted that it will indeed be double jeopardy to the accused person if the proceedings before this court continued. This court hereby terminates the proceedings against Hon Robert Kyagulanyi. You are accordingly set free unless you are held on other charges,” Lt Gen Gutti declared.
However, Bobi Wine’s relief and joy was short-lived as his lawyer Sseggona told him at the exit of the court premises that he had received information that he was under police arrest.
Mr Bobi Wine, who walked with the help of clutches and human support, was then led to a waiting police vehicle and driven to the nearby Chief Magistrate’s Court in Gulu. He was charged afresh but this time with treason and remanded until August 30 when he will reappear with his co-accused who are in Gulu Central Prison on the same charges.