In a civil suit filed at the High court yesterday, Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (Bobi Wine) put the police on the spot for banning his music concerts because of their political content yet they did not stop President Museveni from using musicians in his re-election campaign last year.
A group of musicians were paid large sums of money to promote Museveni’s candidature in 2016, composing a praise song, Tubonga naawe, for the president. The MP believes he has run into trouble because of his opposition activism.
The musician-cum-opposition politician, whose profile has taken on a life of its own ever since he defied the odds and swept a by-election in a landslide win, yesterday dragged the Kampala Metropolitan police chief to the High court.
Commandant Frank Mwesigwa was named alongside the Attorney General as a respondent in the civil suit.
“I have my political views and I should be able to express them wherever I’m. It can be a music concert or any other place. That’s why I’m here in court to challenge the infringement on my rights,” Kyagulanyi told journalists as his lawyer, Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, looked on.
In the suit, he speaks about gross “violation of constitutional guarantees”, a common thread in similar protests lodged by colleagues opposed to President Museveni’s wishes to lift Article 102(b) that provides for presidential age limits.
Judge Henrietta Wolayo is invited to quash the ban and also compel the respondents to pay punitive and compensatory damages.
On Tuesday, Mwesigwa issued a directive banning Kyagulanyi from organizing concerts after the musician’s promoter Balunywa Promotions Limited sought police security ahead of a planned show at Colline hotel in Mukono.
Mwesigwa rationalized his decision, contending that during Kyagulanyi’s recent concert at One Love beach Busabala, he had uttered words that incited the public.
If he appears before Wolayo, the police officer will have to respond to Kyagulanyi’s charge that this decision violated his constitutional right to protection by the law under Article 21 (1).
The ban also contravenes Article 40 (2) of the constitution, according to the Kyadondo East MP. This article stipulates: “Every person in Uganda has the right to practice his or her profession and to carry on any lawful occupation, trade or business.”
Another violation mentioned is in respect to Article 29 of the constitution which protects the inherent and fundamental human rights/ freedoms of speech, expression, assembly and association.
In his affidavit, Kyagulanyi says police machinations go back to September in the western district of Kasese. On September 29, Jackson Mbaju (MP Busongora South) invited him to stage a concert as part of events to launch Mbaju’s constituency development programme.
Through Rwakafuuzi and company advocates, Kyagulanyi says Mbaju wrote a letter notifying the police of the said event and subsequently Asuman Mugenyi, police director of operations, replied on the same day acknowledging the notification and expressing no objection.
On October 8, Kyagulanyi says, Assistant Superintendent of Police Richard Echega wrote another letter on behalf of the inspector general of police contending that due to “security reasons the function will not be allowed.”
“Honourable Mbaju had paid me the full amount for the show, Shs 20,000,000,” Kyagulanyi says, “… as a result of this cancellation, I’m morally obliged to refund the money.”
He adds that all his adult life, he has been an artiste and making a living through entertainment, and that he arranged for a show in Kamuli, on October 20. But policemen and crime preventers pulled down his adverts in Kamuli town in broad daylight, costing his promoter money.
“Subsequently, the district police commander, Kamuli, ordered the cancellation of the show saying that the IGP had instructed him not to allow the show,”Kyagulanyi says.
He had anticipated to earn a gross amount of Shs 30 million from the show. Then, police was notified as early as October 12 of the show planned for October 21 at Colline hotel. But in a letter dated October 19, 2017, Mwesigwa cancelled the show, saying Kyagulanyi’s music was political.
“That the said Mwesigwa informed me that I risk my career if I don’t stop making music to sound political and that I will not be allowed to stage music shows again,” Kyagulanyi says, adding that he is now devastated by the fact that his livelihood is in jeopardy.