Justice Cheborion Barishaki has ruled that the army involvement in the chaos that erupted in parliament during the climax of age limit debate was justifiable.
Soldiers suspected to be from the Special Forces Command which is part of the UPDF were seen in parliament roughing up legislators especially from the opposition as chaos erupted on the floor of the August House during the peak of the age limit debate.
However, according to petitioners, it was unconstitutional for the army to storm parliament because the mandate of giving security is for only parliamentary police.
The Chief of Defence Forces in the UPDF, Gen.David Muhoozi told court that he had been called then Inspector General of Police, Gen.Kale Kayihura seeking for back up from the army to restore order in parliament.
“We went to parliament to offer back up to the police to restore order. We went to secure the integrity of Parliament,”Gen.Muhoozi said in response to questions from lawyers led by Erias Lukwago and Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi during the hearing of the petition.
“In this case, the IGP called me and said he may need the support of the military and I passed the message down the chain of command.”
In his ruling, Justice Barishaki acknowledged that the army involvement was justified to beef up the security of the August House.
During the chaos, a number of legislators including Betty Nambooze, Gerard Karuhanga,Allan Ssewanyana and Robert Kyagulanyi among others were either beaten, roughed up or arrested by the army.
In his ruling, the judge said this was done in an inhuman manner by the security despite the need to calm the situation.
He said that the speaker’s directive was for removing them from parliament but not to detain them.
“Their arrest and detention was uncalled for .They (army) used excessive force and treatment of MPs was inhuman,” Justice Barishaki ruled.
The judge also ruled that the expulsion of some of the legislators did not in any way affect the outcome of the proceeding of the August House.
Six MPs including; Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, Allan Ssewanyana, Gerald Karuhanga, Jonathan Odur, Anthony Akol and Mubarak Manyangwa were on suspended from attending parliamentary sittings for masterminding chaos as the House resumed debate on the proposal to amend the presidential age limit.
They later challenged the manner in which they were thrown out of the August House stressing that it had an outcome on the proceedings during the controversial age limit debate because they were stopped from participating in the proceedings.
The judge however ruled that the legislators were wrong for not listening to orders of the speaker when she asked them not to brew chaos on the floor of the August House.
He ruled that it was clear that majority of the legislators were not ready to listen to their minority counterparts during the debate, a thing he said was wrong.
“MPs ought to respect the speaker and heed to her orders .I find it pertinent to consider powers given to the speaker should be respected,” Justice Barishaki ruled.
“Am inclined to accept that the speaker is mandated to bring to order the August House and this includes throwing out members who are continuously disrupting parliament .I don’t condone any MP whose goal is to curtail proceedings of parliament.”
He therefore ruled that their participation in the debate was curtailed by their own behavior and in the resultant, it didn’t affect the outcome of the entire proceedings of parliament in passing the bill.