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COVID-19: Kiggundu Murder Suspect Decries Prolonged Isolation of Inmates

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Nyanzi, who is jointly charged together with seven others in the International Crimes Division of the High Court told Justice Elizabeth Kabanda during the pre-trial session on Wednesday that when inmates appear before the court, they are confined in an isolation room, which he described as 'ekiyumba' upon their return to prisons.
Sheikh Yahaya Mwanje the Prime Suspect in the murder of of Major Muhammad Kiggundu talking to his lawyer Friday Roberts Kagoro at the International Crimes Division of the High Court.

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Sheikh Yusuf Nyanzi, one of the key suspects in the murder of Major Muhammad Kiggundu and his bodyguard Sergent Steven Mukasa has decried the prolonged isolation of inmates in Luzira prisons as part of the COVID-19 control measures.

Nyanzi, who is jointly charged together with seven others in the International Crimes Division of the High Court told Justice Elizabeth Kabanda during the pre-trial session on Wednesday that when inmates appear before the court, they are confined in an isolation room, which he described as 'ekiyumba' upon their return to prisons.

His co-accused are Sheikh Yahaya Ramathan Mwanje, the prime suspect, Mohammed Buyondo alias Matiya, Abdu Wahab Sendegeya, Musa Ssekandi alias Masanafu, Jibril Kalyango aliaz Bin Suleiman , Bruhan Balyejusa Kalyango and Noordin Lutaya alias Ibrahim Ssemwanga alias Superman.

Nyanzi alleged that when an inmate is isolated, he or she is confined until the court session is concluded. He told the court that he doesn't understand what's going on in prison, adding that he heard that President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni had fully reopened the economy such that business can resume as it was before the lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He has also complained about hunger, saying that he is suffering from ulcers. Nyanzi told the judge that whenever he comes to the court prison authorities do not allow him to eat food that is brought by his wife yet he is picky about the foods he eats because he doesn't take food with cooking oil.

Justice Kabanda promised to discuss the matter with the Court Registrar to ensure that Nyanzi gets the food of his choice. The Uganda Prison Services Spokesperson, Frank Baine told URN in a text that the "Internal management of prisons is a function of UPS not individuals wishes," when asked to comment on the issues raised by Nyanzi. 

In February 2022, the Commissioner General of Prisons, Dr Johnson Byabashaija issued a circular indicating that all prison facilities across the country had resumed normal operations. He explained then, prisons would no longer hold inmates in isolation centres and allowed physical court appearances and okayed visits by vaccinated individuals. 

Prior to Nyanzi's complaint, State Attorneys led by Jacqueline Okui and Lillian Omar disclosed part of the evidence they intend to use against four accused persons.  They promised to share more evidence with the accused through their lawyers Geoffrey Turyamusiima and Friday Roberts Kagoro. 

As such, the judge adjourned the court to April 19th 2022 to review the physical exhibits such as the guns used in the murder, motorcycles and bullets among others. Prior to the adjournment, Jibril Kalyango, one of the suspects asked the court to allow them time to perform prayers when they return, saying that they are all Muslims who will be fasting around that time.  The court granted his prayers. 

The suspect's lawyer Turyamusiima told URN after the adjournment, says that they will be grateful if the concerns of his clients are addressed.

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Luganda Audio.

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According to the summary of the case signed by the Principal State Attorney, John Baptist Asiimwe, the prime suspect, Sheikh Yahaya Mwanje was seen along the Northern by-pass shortly before Kiggundu and his bodyguard  Mukasa were murdered in Masanafu, a Kampala Suburb on November 26th 2016. 

The prosecution notes that prior to the attack, Sheikh Mwanje released audio recordings containing hate messages directed at Kiggundu. The records further show that prior to his murder, Kiggundu had indicated that Mwanje was threatening to kill him and was in constant communication with his co-accused but would delete the call logs immediately after their conversations.

The DPP says that Mwanje who was the head of Nakasero Mosque had threatened to kill Kiggundu and a section of other Muslim clerics because of their opposition to his leadership and management of the mosque projects.

All the suspects are out on bail save for Noordin Lutaya and Nyanzi who is on remand for the murder of General Katumba Wamala's daughter Brenda Nantongo and driver Haruna Kayondo. Nyanzi also faces charges of murdering former Police Spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kaweesi alongside his bodyguard Kenneth Erau and driver, Godfrey Mambewa.