The Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah has dismissed requests by the Opposition to have the House intervene in the continued denial of bail to MPs Muhammad Ssegirinya representing Kawempe North and Allan Ssewanyana of Makindye West.
The two are facing several charges, including murder, attempted murder, aiding and abetting terrorism. They were on Monday denied bail by Masaka High Court Judge, Lawrence Tweyanze saying that their release would jeopardize investigations since they are currently under trial.
Tweyanze said that the MPs are public figures and have capacity to influence and interfere with investigations, including absconding from bail. He also said that their lawyers led by Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago failed to prove that the MPs were ill and that the first charges where the two legislators had been granted bail were different from the case before him.
MPs Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana are accused of masterminding the recent machete killings in Masaka sub-region. Masaka High Court recently granted them bail but they were later re-arrested, charged afresh and remanded to Kigo prison.
During the Tuesday afternoon plenary sitting, Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda raised a procedural issue in regard to the denial of bail to their two colleagues.
“When I came here, I was given the Constitution and I took an oath to defend the Constitution, these two colleagues have been denied bail because the Head of State has been threatening everybody that he wants them to be in prison, yet they were granted bail under the Constitution because they are presumed to be innocent,” said Ssemujju.
He asked the Speaker for guidance given the ongoing circumstances. In response, Oulanyah said that he used to practice law and he applied for bail several times and it was denied.
The Speaker then said that it is constitutional to grant and deny bail and that there is no need to politicize the matter and cause undue pressure on other institutions of government.
Francis Zaake, the Mityana Municipality MP also raised another procedural point saying that MP Ssegirinya had been removed from prison this morning and taken Mulago hospital to receive treatment. He said that it was unfair not to provide specialized treatment to a legislator yet parliament caters for it.
However, Speaker Oulanyah ruled that procedural matters are about procedures in the House. “Anything outside this place and not relating to a matter going on in this House cannot be a procedural matter for a House or for a decision of the Speaker,” Oulanyah ruled. “Those become administrative issues, in which case you just come to the Speaker and we talk about it. It cannot be a procedural matter.”
With insistence from MP Zaake, Oulanyah maintained that the issue is administrative in nature. Murder is a capital offence and it attracts a maximum punishment of death by hanging when convicted according to the Penal Code Act.