Uganda: Court Dismisses Former MP Kipoi's Petition Over Lack of Prosecution

The Constitutional Court has dismissed a petition in which former Bubulo West MP Tony Kipoi was challenging the powers of the General Court Martial to try him in regard to subversive activities against the state.

A five-member panel led by Justice Kenneth Kakuru yesterday ruled that they could not entertain his petition for lack of prosecution.

"During interaction in this court, Mr Ronald Iduuli (defence lawyer) said he did not have a practicing certificate, he cannot continue as counsel in this petition since he has no audience. We would have adjourned this case to another date to enable the applicant instruct another lawyer but we are unable to do so since the only address on record is Ojok Advocates," the court ruled.

The justices, however, added that Mr Kipoi was at liberty to restate his application if he desired to do so.

Other justices included Hellen Obura, Stephen Musota, Christopher Madrama and Remmy Kasule.

However, court heard that Mr Kipoi applied for amnesty and it was granted. Mr Kipoi had petitioned court challenging the constitutionality of Section 119 of the UPDF Act through which the state prosecutes civilians over treason cases before the court martial.

He states that the section under which he is being charged can only be committed by soldiers but not civilians, and thus wants court to declare that his trial in the military court contravenes Articles 28(1), 21(1) of the Constitution.

He also wants court to declare the Director of Public Prosecutions' (DPP) bringing the charges in a military court illegal since it also contravenes with Article 120 (3)b of the Constitution, which states that the DPP can institute charges in any court but not the military court.

Among other orders, Mr Kipoi wants court to prohibit the state security agencies from detaining civilians and prosecuting them in military courts.

State's case

However, in its defence, the state through its attorney, Mr Geoffrey Atwiine, said the General Court Martial has the jurisdiction to try the offences that Mr Kipoi was charged with, adding that all his rights were observed.

Mr Atwiine said the DPP dropped the charges against Mr Kipoi on grounds that they were not triable by the High Court but at the General Court Martial, which could not bar further proceedings from the court with a competent jurisdiction.

Mr Atwiine also attached a December 4, 2019, application letter for amnesty by Mr Kipoi in which he renounced violence.

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