By Spy Uganda
Kampala: Human rights defender Nicholas Opio has today been presented before Nakawa Chief Magistrates’ where he has been charged with money laundering and neglect to submit annual returns to the NGO bureau.
However, after hearing to his charges, Opio, who expected to be released on bail at least to celebrate Christmas with his family, was informed by the magistrate’s court that it had no jurisdiction to hear his bail application, hence remanding him till December 28 2020.
For the above reason, Court also forwarded his file to the Anti-Corruption Court through the High Court Registrar for further hearing.
Rights activists and lawyers under their umbrella organization Chapter Four released a statement last evening calling for the unconditional and immediate release of their colleagues including Nicholas Opiyo, Anthony Odur, Herbert Dakasi, Simon Peter Esomu, and Tenywa Hamid.
“We note with deep concern that Herbert Dasaki, Peter Simon Esomu, Anthony Odur Peter Simon Esomu, and Tenywa Hamid were assaulted while being driven to Kireka Special Investigations Division (SID). The four lawyers were further detained in a congested police cell, exposing them to the risk of contracting COVID19,” the lawyers said in the statement.
According to Chapter Four team, none of the officers identified themselves during the arrest of their colleagues, as required by the law. Additionally, it is not possible to establish which security agency is responsible for his arrest. This was further confirmed by the police commander at Kireka SID, who allegedly admitted that they were mere custodians of Mr. Opiyo and his colleagues and were following directives from a higher authority.
“We condemn the high-handed and brutal manner in which Mr. Opiyo, an Advocate, and his colleagues were arrested and detained, contrary to the law that requires arresting officers to identify themselves and use no more force than necessary when effecting an arrest,” they added.
Meanwhile, activists and the legal fraternity have expressed alarm at the complete disregard of the rule of law and the flagrant violation of the rights of Mr. Nicholas Opiyo.
Furious Chapter Four lawyers assert, “We further note with concern that security personnel continue to disregard established human rights standards and weaponize laws such as the anti-money laundering law to target, harass, intimidate, and persecute human rights defenders and civil society groups ahead of the upcoming 2021 General Elections. They do this while concealing individual culpability under the veil of institutional actions with the hope of escaping liability.”
Meanwhile, these also comes after Kyagulanyi’s international lawyer based in US Robert Amsterdam has since wrote to the US’ house of representatives asking them to act on Uganda in a special way to save innocent citizens dying every day due to police’s brutality.
The detention of Nick Opiyo cannot stand. It is an indictment not only of M7 and the killers that masquerade as law enforcement but of the willingness of the AU and others to grant the old boys club of sclerotic dictators impunity for their cynical debasing of rule of law.
— Robert Amsterdam (@robertamsterdam) December 23, 2020
In his letter addressed to Hon. Rep. Elliot L. Engel Chairman on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and Hon. Rep. Michael McCaul Lead Republican of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Amsterdam says that “the actions by the regime of President Yoweri Museveni represents a clear and unambiguous attack on the democratic rights of the Ugandan people.”