Chaos as army court denies NUP supporters bail again

The suspect who attempted to jump from the dock being whisked away by the military police at the General Court Martial in Makindye, Kampala, on Arpil 15, 2024. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • In the court ruling Brig Gen Mugabe said they found no merit in the bail application.  

There was chaos at the General Court Martial after the chairperson declined to release 28 National Unity Platform (NUP) party supporters accused of unlawfully possessing 13 pieces of explosive devices.

Sources that attended the closed-door session claimed one of the suspects attempted to jump from the court dock to assault the chairman, Brig Gen Freeman Mugabe, after their bail application was frustrated for the third time.

“For the first time, the suspects turned out chaotic just after the chairman delivered his ruling denying them bail. One jumped out of the dock and he was beaten seriously by the soldiers deployed in the courtroom,” a source, who preferred anonymity, said. 

Shortly after court, the detainee, who had attempted to attack the chairman, was dragged out of the courtroom while handcuffed and thrown inside a military van.

“We won’t beg [President Yoweri] Museveni for our freedom. It is okay if you want to kill us for trying to fight for our country. You arrested us for trying to protect Robert Kyagulanyi’s votes [during presidential elections] now you expect us to beg you to return our freedom! What crime did we commit? We will not relent,’’ he was heard shouting,  as he waited for his co-accused to be taken back to prison where they have been on remand for over three years.

The ruling that was delivered by Brig Gen Mugabe is one of the several orders that have blocked NUP supporters from getting temporary freedom.   

The suspects were first remanded on charges of unlawful possession of 13 explosive devices following their arrest in December 2020 during the presidential campaigns before an additional charge of treachery was slapped against them. 

They have had several bail applications dismissed before by the army court, largely on grounds that their sureties are not substantial.  As a result, eight Opposition MPs and a city mayor offered to stand surety for their release.

But in the court ruling Brig Gen Mugabe said they found no merit in the bail application.  

“The application is hereby dismissed. The court orders an expeditious trial of the applicants in the main case,’’ he said.

Prosecution alleges that between November 2020 and May 12, 2021, in diverse areas of Jinja, Mbale, Kireka, Nakulabye, Kawempe, Nateete and Kampala Central, the accused were in possession of 13 pieces of explosive devices which are ordinarily a monopoly of the defence forces.

The group was arrested in Kalangala District while on the campaign trail of then-presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine.

They face charges of being in unlawful possession of ammunition contrary to Section 3 (1) and (2) of the Firearms Act.

UPDF Press release
We condemn acts of hooliganism at the General Court Martial On April 15th, 2024, while the Court Martial was in session in Makindye, some members in the audience who included MPs and defendants in the dock, displayed the most contemptuous acts of hooliganism against the honourable court martial.

The UPDF, therefore, condemns in the strongest terms possible such kinds of hooliganism and will not hesitate to request court martial authorities to take legal action against those involved. The sanctity of the court must be respected at all costs. 

The General Court Martial remains committed to dispensing justice to its service men and women, and all those subject to military laws as per law established.

Felix M. Kulayigye
Brig General 
Defence Public Information Officer