The High court in Kampala has awarded Shs 10 million to each of the five Mbarara district officials arrested by the State House Anti-corruption Unit for being detained without charge beyond 48 hours.
Mbarara chief administrative officer Felix Cuthbert Esoku, Godlive Ayebare and Emmanuel Himbisa, both senior land officers, Aggrey Atukwatse, the assistant engineer, and human resource officer Rosalia Karuhanga were arrested on February 22, 2019, on allegations of selling off the municipality land without authorisation from the Uganda Land Commission.
The accused reportedly received payments after leasing various plots of land along Kamukuzi road in Mbarara to Rwampara County MP Charles Ngabirano well knowing that the land in question didn’t belong to the Mbarara local government.
After their arrest, the suspects were brought to Kampala and detained at Kabalagala police station for five days without being charged in any competent court of law which violated their constitutional right of being produced within 48 hours.
City lawyer Nicholas Ecimu challenged their arrest and asked court to declare that Lt Col Edith Nakalema, the head of the State House Anti-corruption Unit had usurped the powers of the inspector general of government (IGG) by causing the arrest of the accused persons. Ecimu equally asked the court to quash the said charges.
In his decision on Thursday, Justice Musa Ssekaana acknowledged that indeed the suspects were kept in police cells for more than 48 hours in total violation of their constitutional rights. But he declined a request to halt the proceedings in the Anti-Corruption court saying that civil courts are not supposed to engage in criminal matters.
Ssekaana also rejected the prayer seeking to declare that the applicants were subjected to torture and degrading treatment while in police custody. He said that evidence provided by the assistant superintendent of police
George Omony indicates that the applicants were being detained
in places where they would access both proper sanitation and medical facilities
while being fed two meals per day.
Ssekaana awarded 10 million to each of them for having been held in illegal detention and imposed a fine of Shs 2 million on the government as a punishment to deter security agencies from holding citizens without trial. The judge has ruled that the monies will attract a 15 per cent per annum effective today until when its paid in full