The High Court in Kampala has ruled that the police's move to stop the Kyarenga extra concert in which presidential hopeful Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine was set to perform at his One Love Beach in Busabaala on Easter Monday of last year, was unlawful.
Justice Esta Nambayo in her ruling on Wednesday, also issued orders barring the police from further interfering with musical shows organised by the two events promoters; Abby Musinguzi aka Abtex and Andrew Mukasa, alias Bajjo.
The duo music and events promoters were the petitioners in this case against the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Attorney General.
"I have already established that the actions of AIGP (Mr Asuman Mugenyi) were ultra vires, as the result, I will allow the application with the following declarations and orders: The decision making process and the decision itself of the 1st respondent (IGP) communicated to the applicants on April 19, 2019, indefinitely stopping them from organising the Kyarenga extra concerts at One Love Beach - Busabaala, Lira, Gulu, Arua are illegal, irregular and in abuse of the first respondent's powers," ruled justice Nambayo.
She added: "An order of prohibition is hereby issued restraining the respondents (IGP and AG) from assuming powers to authorise or sanction the holding of musical shows and celebrations of a social nature by the applicants (Abtex and Bajjo)."
The police was also ordered to meet the legal costs that the applicants incurred pursuing this matter.
Last year, Abtex and Bajjo came into an understanding with Bobi Wine to organise musical concerts dubbed 'Kyarenga extra concerts' at One Love Beach, Lira, Gulu and Arua.
Bobi Wine and his crew were meant to perform at the said concerts and also provide more artistes for the utmost entertainment of the revellers at a total consideration of Shs230m. The duo paid Bobi Wine half of the said money to perform.
As per the Public Order Management Act, 2013 (POM) guidelines, the duo wrote to the IGP, requesting for security during the concerts.
The IGP wrote back setting the terms for them to fulfil before their concerts could be cleared to go on.
The duo claim to have fulfilled all the conditions set by the police and upon notifying the IGP, they were directed by letter dated 19th April, 2019 from the IGP to immediately suspend all concerts.
According to the music and events promoters, they claim there was no credible reason advanced for the cancellation of the said concerts.
The friction between the two camps climaxed on Easter Monday morning, when the police blocked the duo together with Bobi Wine from accessing the venue of the concert at the One Love Beach.
They had arranged for a press conference to explain to the revellers why the concert had been cancelled.
They were instead arrested and driven at breakneck speed to the residence of Bobi Wine at Magere - Gayaza in Wakiso District.
It was therefore, their contention that the conduct of the police throughout the entire process was fraught with irrationality, bad faith and amounted to violation of their freedom to liberty and economic rights guaranteed under the constitution.
AIGP Asuman Mugenyi, while responding to the law suit of the duo music and events promoters, accused them of failing to comply with the police directives that were given to them on April 15, 2019 regarding the requirements for security of the concerts.
The senior police officer, also stated that the disregard for the set and agreed upon guidelines has quite often resulted into acts related to public nuisance, violation of traffic rules and various misconduct which are not only a breach of the law but endanger lives of Ugandans, some of whom are not part of the revellers.
Mr Mugenyi also told court that as a result of their none-compliance with the directives given to them by the IGP, he had no option but to stop the concerts.
But in her analysis, justice Nambayo observed that it was wrong for the police to stop the extra Kyarenga concerts basing on what happened in the previous musical concerts organised by the same music and events promoters.
"In this case, the applicants (Abtex and Bajjo) were the first to write to the first respondent (IGP), requesting for guidelines and security. The first respondent wrote back detailing the requirements to be fulfilled. When the applicants wrote back to explain that they had met all the requirements the first respondent paid no attention to their communication. They were stopped from conducting the concerts basing on alleged misconduct in the past concerts," justice Nambayo noted.
"This in my view was not proper. The applicants (Abtex and Bajjo) had complied with the requirements given to them. If there were issues coming up from their past conduct, the applicants should have been notified and given an opportunity to respond to the accusations. It was wrong for the police not to give the applicants an opportunity to be heard on the allegation made against them in respect of their past conduct during their concerts. It was also wrong for the police to deny them the opportunity to hold a press conference," the judge further observed.
However, she did not award the two musical and events promoters damages, reasoning that there was no prayer by them to court to that effect.
Compiled by Anthony Wesaka, Juliet Kigongo & Betty Ndagire