A group of volunteers
in Lango and beyond have started collecting money to bail
out 12 people who were arrested for violating the Covid19 preventive
guidelines. The 12 are part of 49 people who were arrested on April 9th,
2020 for breaching the nationwide curfew.
The suspects appeared before the Lira Grade One
Magistrate’s Court on April 15th, 2020 and were granted bail. However,
most of them failed to meet the bail conditions and were returned to Kwania
Government prison. On May 9th, 2020, a photo of women
believed to be vegetable and fruit vendors struggling to board a Uganda Prisons
truck at High Court in Lira went viral on social media.
“How rights of our sisters, mothers were
violated in Lira,” read the caption on the photo. Video footage showing some
mothers in court with their children and later boarding a prison truck destined
for Kwania also went viral. The posts drew uproar from social media users who
kept sharing it.
“How do you get to your beds when breastfeeding
mothers wrongfully and stupidly arrested during day selling fruits are sent to
prison?” asked one of the social media users. On Sunday May 10th, the Lira
District COVID19 Task Force issued a statement explaining that the photo in
circulation was old, saying the mothers had been released on police bond.
A group of 10 Advocates came up and offered to
represent the women and all other suspects Pro Bono. They included Adam Makmot
Kibwanga of Kibwanga and Co. Advocates, Quirinus Oyugi Onono, Ponisano Okello, Innocent
Omara, Egaru Emmanuel Omiat, Mike Abwang of Abwang Otim and Co. Advocates, Isaac
Omara and Rachael Ayo.
Several Civil Society Organisations
including Action aid, Women Peace Initiative, and Wakina Mama Afrika also came
on board. However, upon checking the court records, the lawyers established
that only 12 women and nine men are still in Kwania prisons after failing to
They resolved that Justice Center
secures a production warrant for the accused persons to appear in court for
bail. Victor Ochen, a Human Rights Activist and Executive Director African
Youth Initiative Network- Ayinet, has since offered Shillings 5 million to
facilitate the advocate’s movement.
An anonymous contributor has also offered Shillings
1.2M to help with the bail application. Good Luck Bus has offered its coaches
to transport the suspects from Kwania prisons to Lira High court. Alex Oremo A lot, the Lira District LC V
chairperson, asked local leaders to sensitise residents about the curfew,
arguing that the first people who were arrested didn’t understand what curfew
//Cue in: “And I think…
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Sam Engola, the former Erute South Member of
Parliament argued that these people who are being arrested for disobeying the
presidential directives are unable to raise money for bail. He says they should
rather be cautioned and released instead of being locked up.
//Cue in: “Let them caution…
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Engola called on the entire business community
in Lango to join hands to ensure that the suspects are released to their families.