Grade One Magistrate Stella Paculal Okwong on Friday halted criminal proceedings
against Pastor Aloysius Bugingo and Suzan Nantaba Makula.
This is after Okwong allowed an application filed by Bugingo and Makula's
lawyers Ronald Rulinda and Isaac Keith Ssenyange asking the court to refer the
matter to the Constitutional Court for interpretation.
The lawyers raised 21 issues on whether or not certain provisions of the Marriage
Act, 1904 and Penal Code Act, 1950 are not in breach of provisions of the 1995
Bugingo, the lead pastor at House of Prayer Ministries, is accused of
committing bigamy and contracting marriage with Nantaba, breaching sections of
the Marriage Act and the Penal Code Act, since he is still legally married to
Teddy Naluswa Bugingo.
The state says Bugingo and Naluswa got married on December 20, 2003. But before
the dissolution of their marriage, Bugingo married Makula under customary law
on December 7, 2021, in Kawuku, Katabi town council in Wakiso district.
Okwong allowed the application because the proposed questions require
interpretation by the Constitutional Court.
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Earlier on, Rulinda highlighted the 21 issues which question the constitutionality
of mainly Section 153 of the Penal Code Act, Sections 41, 42, and 50 of the
Marriage Act, 1904 which prohibit bigamy, an unmarried person marrying a person
previously married and contracting customary marriage when already
He argued that these provisions in the Penal Code Act and Marriage Act are
discriminative, unconstitutional, null and void, and contrary to several
Articles of the Uganda Constitution namely Articles 2, 31, and 32.
added that the provisions under which Bugingo and Makula are charged do not
prohibit other subsequent marriages contracted by persons who already
contracted marriages under the Mohamaddian Law and the Customary Marriages
He wants the Constitutional Court to determine
whether or not the provisions of the Penal Code and Marriage Act do not for
instance contravene Makula and Bugingo's constitutional rights to equality and
fair treatment in not granting people in bigamous marriages the same benefits
as those in non-bigamous marriages, their right of choice of a marriage partner
and the right to found a family.
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Rulinda also argued that sections of the Penal Code and Marriage Act encourage
homophobia and stigmatization, criminalize consensual marriage between adults
of sound mind, and create offenses that are not criminally actionable amongst the
Hindus, and Muslims, and those that contract customary marriages."
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Attorney Timothy Amerit however asked the court to dismiss the application, saying
it is a tactic to delay criminal proceedings against Bugingo and Makula.
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Last week, Rulinda made the application, saying that the matter should be
referred to the Constitutional Court for interpretation as provided for in the
Judicature Rules and Constitutional Court Rules.