Stunned by the verdict and quick sentencing, the Kayunga Woman MP Aidah Nantaba says the court swift move is meant to protect the Mafia who didn't want her to expose them and their key role in the Ssebulime's killing who she needed alive alive and reveal the people who were after her.
Cpl David Ssali in a dock
The verdict and sentencing of self Corporal David Ssali for murdering Ronald Ssebulime seems to have delivered more confusion than justice as the deceased's relatives insist that Kayunga Woman MP Aidah Nantaba should also have been charged, while she is instead crying foul saying the hasty court decision was meant to protect the real murderers who gave Ssali the order to execute the victim who was handcuffed and lying on the ground.
Biker Ssebulime was extrajudicially executed by police patrol vehicle commander Corporal David Ssali on March 24, 2019 when he received a phone call and announced to his men that the "order has changed", then proceeding to drag the handcuffed Ssebulime from the pickup, throw him on the ground and shoot him point blank, killing him instantly.
Nantaba, who was then minister of state in charge of ICT kept insisting that police should simply look through Ssali's phone log to know who ordered Ssebulime's extra-judicial execution, but somehow this did not form part of the State's case and Prosecution/CID did appear concerned about the motive of murdering a subdued subject who was in police hands while handcuffed and lying on the ground.
However the family of the late Ronald Ssebulime led by his sister Sylvia Nakayita are still baying for Nantaba's head, and have expressed dissatisfaction with the Mukono High Court’s ruling on convicting police officer Corporal Ssali for murdering their loved one, leaving his two children orphans and helpless.
According to them, the honourable Nantaba should have as well been arraigned and sentenced in court along side Corporal Ssali as her incorrect information (when she called police to complain that Ssebulime was trailing her)was the cause of her (Nakayita) brother’s death.
“The years awarded to Cpl. David Ssali are not enough considering what he did to my brother, and Nantaba should as well be charged because she is the one who gave out false information against my brother which led to his death.” Nakayita says.
But Nantaba always insisted that she is the one person who most needed Ssebulime alive so that he could tell who had sent him to trail her, as that is the real person behind the killing.
The Mukono High Court judge, Justice Henry Kaweesa Isabirye yesterday Monday 18th 2021 sentenced Cpl. Ssali to 20 years in Luzira Maximum Security Prison.
The matter was before court to continue hearing the state’s witnesses in the case but the order of things changed when Corporal Ssali’s lawyer Richard Kumbuga alerted Justice Kaweesa that he was ready with an unsigned plea bargaining document from his client.
Justice Kaweesa asked him why he had not yet signed the document yet he (the judge) was even late to court.
The judge then asked Ssali if he was coerced to plead guilty to which he answered that he was not, and that he did it after noticing the overwhelming evidence against him by the state.
Plea bargaining is a judiciary process now encouraged in Uganda to help reduce the case backlog in courts. Usually, the accused person voluntarily pleads guilty to the charges in exchange for a lenient sentence for if he was to be found guilty. In Ssali's case as in his own own opinion the state has overwhelming evidence against him, he was likely to get the maximum sentence which would be the death penalty.
So because of saving court’s time, Ssali has been given 20 years in prison, something that doesn't not sit right with the late Ssebulime’s family. But is is even more disconcerting for Nantaba who says her testimony would have exposed the real the real people who want to harm her.
Nantaba who was supposed to again appear in court on Tuesday 19 as a witness in the same trial told URN that she was surprised at the abrupt verdict and sentencing.
“I know they could not stand my testimony asI was going to bring out a lot which the mafias could not stand," she said. "So they had him plead guilty before I could testify. Police modified the bike, changing the appearance of the exhibits. What was the motive? The state attorney did not want my evidence in court, including the recordings, the changed photos of the bike.”
Corporal Ssali has been on trial having been charged with the murder of Ronald Ssebulime.
According to the state, in 2019, Cpl Ssali shot and killed Ssebulime who had been arrested for allegedly trailing the then ICT State minister, Aidah Erios Nantaba, at Nagojje trading center on a motorcycle on suspicion that he wanted to assassinate her.
It is alleged that Nantaba called the police who arrested and handcuffed him before Ssali shooting him dead on March 24, 2019. Ssali received a phone call apparently ordering him to execute Ssebulime, as he declared that the order had changed, before dragging the handcuffed man to the ground and shooting him point blank.
Ssali was later arrested and arraigned at Mukono Magistrates Court where he was charged with murder.
Ssembulime’s family then sued Nantaba and three other police constables namely Edward Cherotich, Ronald Opira and Ronald Baganza for their involvement in the shooting of the late Ssebulime.
Nevertheless, the officer of the Director of Public Prosecution- DPP advised the police to try the police constables in the Police Disciplinary Unit- PDU instead since their commander, Cpl Ssali had confessed to the crime and a ballistic report proved that it was his gun that was used in the murder. DPP also withdrew the murder charges against Nantaba.
Cpl Ssali who was attached to Naggalama police station was charged before the Mukono grade one magistrate Mariam Nulugya in April 2019, and remanded to Luzira prison.
However, the rest of the police officers were never charged, forcing Ssebulime’s family to petition the court to institute a private prosecution against Nantaba and the three other officers as accomplices to the murder.