Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago. FILE PHOTO
By ANTHONY WESAKA & JULIET KIGONGO
Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago is all smiles after court ordered government to compensate him with Shs50m for violating his rights that, among others, saw a police officer grab him by his groin before bundling him onto a waiting van.
Justice Henrietta Wolayo of the High Court in Kampala, in her ruling on Monday, said Mr Lukwago’s arrest on the morning of September 21, 2017, violated his right to personal liberty, an arrest that saw him scream in pain in front of cameras.
The judge further held that Mr Lukwago’s arrest subjected him to degrading treatment and also violated his right to privacy when the police, unlawful entered his home in Bulwa, Rubaga Division in Kampala without a search warrant.
“I have found that on September 21, 2017 while at his home in Bulwa, Rubaga, the applicant (Mr Lukwago), was grabbed in the groin, his private parts squeezed and bundled into a cage like van and driven to Kira Police Station and finally to Nagalama where he was detained until 8:30pm,” ruled justice Wolayo.
She added: “Going by the principle in the law of torts that the purpose of damage is to place the plaintiff in the position he was in before the damage or injury, I consider a sum of Shs50m adequate as compensation for the unlawful arrest and violation of his right to liberty protected under Article 23, violation of his right to privacy protected by Article 27 and degrading treatment protected by Article 24.”
The court orders followed a law suit filed by Mr Lukwago over three years ago in which he had contended that on September 21, 2017, the then Divisional Commander of Old Kampala Police Station, ASP Grace Nyangoma led a group of police officers who surrounded his home and later violently arrested him.
This was during the period of the heated debate on presidential age limit. But justifying her presence at the lord mayor’s home, ASP Nyangoma told court that she had prior, received credible information that high profile individuals including Mr Lukwago, were to be injured. She also told court that the key opposition politician, was to participate or instigate planned unlawful assemblies in town, the reason she deployed at his place for his safety.
But the judge in her analysis, observed
that if ASP Nyangoma’s intention was to protect Mr Lukwago from being
harmed as her intelligence information she received indicated, then it
beats court’s understanding for the same police to arrest him for
allegedly plotting to hold an illegal assembly in town.
The judge instead concluded that at the time of Mr Lukwago’s arrest, he was on his way to work as Kampala lord mayor.
“In the absence of proof of credible information relied upon by the respondent (Attorney General) to arrest the applicant (Mr Lukwago) and in light of the contradiction in the actual reasons for the arrest, that’s, to protect the applicant and to prevent commission of a cognizable offense and in light of the credible evidence of the applicant, he was on his way to work as lord mayor,” Justice Wolayo held.
“On balance of probabilities, I find that the respondent (AG) has failed to demonstrate that the applicant was about to instigate an unlawful assembly when he was arrested.” she further ruled.
The court also awarded Mr Lukwago costs of the suit and ordered that the principle award shall carry a 10 per cent interest per annum from the date of judgment until payment in full.
Credit to Daily Monitor.