Attorney General says case is frivolous
Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president Dr Kizza Besigye is seeking the Constitutional Court’s interpretation of the police action of “easing” themselves around his residence.
The retired UPDF colonel, who on October 28, through his lawyers, A.F Mpanga Advocates, filed a petition to this court challenging his ‘preventive arrest’ by the police at his Kasangati residence, has now added the allegation of police answering nature’s call on his land and exposing him and the community to risk of contracting diseases.
In the petition, an aggrieved Besigye alleges that while participating in the walk-to-work campaign protesting high prices of fuel and essential commodities, he was unlawfully arrested on October 18 and detained for a week under the pretext of ‘preventive arrest’, an act he contends is inconsistent with the constitution.
In his affidavit supporting the petition, Besigye states, among other things, that during this illegal detention, several policemen and other security operatives were not equipped with mobile sanitation facilities, yet they were deployed on his land and around his residence 24 hours a day.
“They eased themselves in the paddocks and farmland and contaminated the public well, which is on my land, thereby exposing me and neighbouring residents to the threat of disease,” Besigye, a medical doctor, states in the three-page affidavit.
Police became a laughing stock during Besigye’s detention over their lack of toilet facilities. This was after Besigye was caught on camera refusing the cops to use his toilet. Later on, a group of cheeky Makerere University students showed up at Besigye’s home with, among other things, a potty supposedly for the policemen to use. During Besigye’s house arrest, the deputy regional police commander (Operations) ASP Sam Omara and police force spokespersons, Ibn Senkumbi and Judith Nabakooba, told the nation that his home would remain besieged until he renounced any intention to participate in the walk-to-work protests, which police maintain are illegal.
But Besigye is seeking compensation for the “unlawful” arrest and detention, citing article 23(7) of the constitution. He says during the week-long detention, he was unable to conduct his lawful business. Besigye also wants court to bar the government from detaining him under preventive arrest.
“Grant a permanent order restraining the government and its organisations from detaining the petitioner at his residence under the pretext of preventive arrest and detention,” the petition says.
However, referring to the petition as “misconceived, frivolous and vexatious”, and one that raises no issues for interpretation, the Attorney General, in response, says Besigye is not entitled to any remedies or relieves.
“The petition is misconceived, lacks merit, is bad in law and does not give rise to matters for interpretation. It discloses no cause of action whatsoever as against the respondent,” states state attorney Ester Nyangoma in her affidavit in support of the Attorney General.
During his detention, Besigye sued the Inspector General of Police at Kasangati Magistrate’s court. David Mpanga, Besigye’s lead attorney, argued that his client had been arrested twice and taken to his home, which is not a lawfully gazetted area of detention.
The magistrate, Jessica Chemeri, ruled that it was wrong for Besigye to be detained for more than 48 hours without charge, and ordered his immediate release. The police withdrew from his home shortly before this judgement.
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