A human rights lawyer has referred to the speedy arrest and arraignment before court of Mr. Mugisha Elvis Mbonye, the owner of the Facebook account that questioned the recent government immunization campaign against Measles and Rubella, as merely a fall-back position by the police but was never the institution’s intention in the first place.
Speaking today following court proceeding that saw Mr. Mugisha granted bail by Buganda Road Court magistrate Stella Maris Amabilis, counsel Daniel Walyemera of Walyemera and Co. Advocate stated that the police as well as the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate’s (CIID) intention, “was simply to harass Prophet Elvis Mbonye because of his stand against the religious policy that the Lokodos (Ministry of Ethics) are fronting around as a magic solution to the alleged criminal activity within the body of Christ in Uganda.”
In the aftermath the mass immunization campaign, Prophet Mbonye was summoned by the CIID to aid the institution in its investigations of posts against the campaign that were published on the Facebook account of a one Mugisha Elvis Mbonye. The CIID reasoned that the posts were in contravention of Section 23 of the Immunisation Act that makes it an offence to publish misleading information on vaccines.
Henceforth Prophet Mbonye was asked to periodically report to the CIID offices in Kibuli as government forensics verified the ownership of the Mugisha Elvis Mbonye Facebook account. This was seen as a gross infringement on his pre-trial rights by his lawyers who, from the onset, had clarified that the account did not belong to the Prophet. This culminated in the lawsuit by two followers of Prophet Elvis Mbonye filing a court case against CIID honchos.
The followers, Simon Ssenyonga and Amos Musheija, sought court declaration that placing Prophet Elvis on police bond for three months was an infringement and violation of his pre-trial rights and his fundamental right to a fair hearing as protected by the constitution of the republic of Uganda. And it’s to this move that Mr. Wanyela credits the speedy arrest and arraignment before court of Mr. Mugisha.
“It is simply because we have put pressure on them. Now the law is taking them on, on individual basis; Grace Akullo (CIID boss) is being taken on as an individual, Henry Mugumya (Acting Commissioner) is being taken on as an individual. Now that they have been put under pressure within a very short time they have been able to come up with the arrest of Mugisha Elvis Mbonye,” says Mr. Wanyela.
He further questions that; “It is holiday time but you can see they have quickly arraigned him before court. For example if he was arrested on the 24th Dec. and this was a Christmas period and on the 27th he is being arraigned in court, when was that file worked on? When did they do the investigations? When did they do the forensics that they were singing about? Ask yourself why didn’t that level of speedy police investigation occur when it was for Prophet Elvis? Why has it occurred this quickly for Mugisha Elvis Mbonye?”
Wanyela surmised that the possible answer to the many questions is that the case against Prophet Elvis was trumped up to harass and intimidate him having spoken against the proposed religious policy; a policy Wanyela refers to as a sham only intended to control and stifle freedom of worship in the country.
On the case of Mr. Mugisha, Wanyela reasons that he operated within the bounds of his right not only as a professional but as a Ugandan to comment on any government programs a right that is safely guarded by Article 29 of our constitution, Article 19 of the International Civil and Political rights and General comment 34 of the Human Rights Committee.