By Uganda Online Media
Kampala; The Court of Appeal has dismissed the bail appeal application of jailed National Unity Platform(NUP) legislators Muhammad Ssegirinya of Kawempe North and Makindye West MP Allan Sewanyana.
The judge ruled that his court lacks the jurisdiction to make a decision on a matter that has not been concluded by the lower courts as the accused are neither sentenced nor convicted of the pressed criminal charges.
“Court can only rule on the right of appeal where there is conviction or sentence,” the judge ruled in favour of a concern raised by state prosecutor Richard Birivumbuka. “Court lacks the jurisdiction to hear the appeal. It is incumbent upon the high court to fix the trial date. We direct that the files of the accused persons are placed before the principal judge of the high court to ensure a speedy trial,” the ruling further read.
The two MPs were arrested and detained in Kitalya in September last year alongside Wilson Ssenyonga who testified against them for murdering Joseph Bwanika a resident of Kisseka B village in the Lwengo district. The late Bwanika is among the 26 people who were killed during the wave of attacks in the Lwengo and Masaka districts between July and August last year.
According to the charge-sheet statement presented to the court by Masaka Resident Chief State Attorney Richard Birivumbuka, Ssenyonga who was arrested shortly after the murder confessed to having been hired by the two legislators to kill Bwanika.
Ssenyonga says that in his Charge and Caution statement on court records that he and other people still at large held a meeting with the two MP’s at Happy Boys-Ndeeba near Kabaka’s Lake in Kampala to plan the killings as a way of sending a message to the government that they were robbed of their 2021 general elections victory.
“The police investigations revealed that after the meeting, Ssenyonga and others still at large proceeded to Lwengo where they executed the murders,” the charge sheet reads in part.
Birivumbuka told the court that part of the evidence included among others; CCTV footage and data from Ssenyonga’s mobile telephone which all places the accused persons including MPs at the same meeting location. He asked the court to commit the accused persons to the High Court for trial since the state had already gathered enough evidence to sustain prosecution against them.
The MP’s are charged with murder and terrorism in which the Prosecution alleges that on the 4th day of August 2021, the MP’s killed one Bwanika Joseph of Kisekka B Village, Kankamba Parish, Lwengo District.
The two MPs were slapped with several charges related to terrorism, murder, and attempted murder over their alleged role in the Greater Masaka machete killings where over 30 people were left dead by unknown assailants who hacked them using machetes.
According to the summary of evidence that the state availed to court and would be relied on in pinning the accused persons, there is CCTV footage allegedly captured from a restaurant and other places in Ndeeba linking the two legislators and other accused to planning the killings in Masaka.
The state is also set to produce in court call log records and statements recorded from some of the accused persons confessing to having taken part in the killings that rocked Masaka and also pin the co-accused and their role in the machete murders.
According to the indictment, the killings were politically motivated with an aim of discrediting the government, and the assailants were paid between shs50,000 and shs100,000 whenever they held meetings to plan the attacks.
However, while addressing the court from Kigo Prison, the two MPs said that they are maliciously framed by the state. Allan Ssewanyana told the Magistrate, that they have never held any a meeting with Ssenyonga; the key witness on who the state is relying to implicate them in the murder.