The jailed Kawempe North Member of parliament, Muhammad Ssegirinya, has pleaded with the Masaka Magistrate’s Court to reign over prison
authorities whom he accuses of violating his rights to perform prayers.
Ssegirinya, who is on remand at Murchison Bay prison in Luzira appeared before Masaka Grade One Magistrate, Grace Wakholi
Tuesday for the mention of the murder charges against him. He appeared together with
his Makindwe West counterpart, Allan Ssewanyana who is jointly accused with him.
The state accuses
the duo of committing the offense
in August this year when they allegedly murdered Joseph Bwanika, a former resident of Kisekka B village in Kissekka sub-county in Lwengo district. When granted an opportunity to address the court about his plights, Ssegirinya complained
that he is locked up in solitary
confinement and not allowed to
practice his faith through prayers.
He told the court that he is under tight restrictions
inside Luzira prisons where he is
suffering a lot of emotional and spiritual stress. Ssegirinya indicates that given his worrying
health status, he would wish to find solace in performing prayers with fellow
inmates but to his dismay, the prison authorities have deliberately declined
his constant pleas and instead declared him a psychiatric patient without conducting any medical examination.
//Cue in: (Luganda)
Cue out; …..mu private
Ssegirinya also indicated that despite the court
directives to the prison
authorities to provide him with specialized medical attention, he is still
languishing in prison cells without the required healthcare. He pleaded with the magistrate to reassert the court’s decision by
putting the orders in writing.
//Cue in: “mu kooti
Cue out; …..embeera
But in his response, Richard
Birivumbuka, the Masaka Chief Resident State Attorney refuted Ssegirinya’s
complaints indicating that the MPs were allocated special rooms given their
status. He also told the court that there are clear medical records indicating that both suspects have been receiving
specialized medical attention whenever they need it including being attended to
from outside prison facilities.
Birivumbuka told the court that the MP’s complaints were diversionary and aimed at distracting the state from its
investigations. He asked the court for more two weeks to allow the state to conclude the process of gathering evidence that will lead to the suspects’ prosecution.
In her ruling, the
presiding magistrate, Grace Wakooli
declined to formally write to prison authorities as requested by Ssegirinya,
saying that she lacks the
jurisdiction to do so. She, however, verbally cautioned prisons to desist from any
form of human rights abuse against inmates and accordingly ordered that the MPs
be allowed to practice their faith.
Notably, the two opposition MPs were last month
committed to Masaka High Court to face charges of terrorism, murder, abetting
terrorism, and attempted murder, offenses they allegedly committed between July and September this year
in Lwengo, Masaka, and Kyotera districts.