Ssegirinya petitions court over the right to prayer

When granted an opportunity to address the court about his plights, Ssegirinya complained that he is locked up in solitary confinement and not allowed to practice his faith through prayers.

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Ssegirinya petitions court

Muhammad Ssegirinya in court (courtesy photo)

The jailed Kawempe North Member of parliament, Muhammad Ssegirinya, has pleaded with the Masaka Magistrate’s Court to reign over prison authorities whom he accuses of violating his rights to perform prayers.

Ssegirinya, who is on remand at Murchison Bay prison in Luzira appeared before Masaka Grade One Magistrate, Grace Wakholi on Tuesday for the mention of the murder charges against him.

He appeared together with his Makindwe West counterpart, Allan Ssewanyana who is jointly accused with him.

The state accuses the duo of committing the offense in August this year when they allegedly murdered Joseph Bwanika, a former resident of Kisekka B village in Kissekka sub-county in Lwengo district.

When granted an opportunity to address the court about his plights, Ssegirinya complained that he is locked up in solitary confinement and not allowed to practice his faith through prayers.

He told the court that he is under tight restrictions inside Luzira prisons where he is suffering a lot of emotional and spiritual stress.

Ssegirinya indicated that given his worrying health status, he would wish to find solace in performing prayers with fellow inmates but to his dismay, the prison authorities have deliberately declined his constant pleas and instead declared him a psychiatric patient without conducting any medical examination.

Ssegirinya also indicated that despite the court directives to the prison authorities to provide him with specialized medical attention, he is still languishing in prison cells without the required healthcare.

He pleaded with the magistrate to reassert the court’s decision by putting the orders in writing.

But in his response, Richard Birivumbuka, the Masaka Chief Resident State Attorney refuted Ssegirinya’s complaints indicating that the MPs were allocated special rooms given their status.

He also told the court that there are clear medical records indicating that both suspects have been receiving specialized medical attention whenever they need it including being attended to from outside prison facilities.

Birivumbuka told the court that the MP’s complaints were diversionary and aimed at distracting the state from its investigations.

He asked the court for more two weeks to allow the state to conclude the process of gathering evidence that will lead to the suspects’ prosecution.

In her ruling, the presiding magistrate, Grace Wakooli declined to formally write to prison authorities as requested by Ssegirinya, saying that she lacks the jurisdiction to do so.

She, however, verbally cautioned prisons to desist from any form of human rights abuse against inmates and accordingly ordered that the MPs be allowed to practice their faith.

Notably, the two opposition MPs were last month committed to Masaka High Court to face charges of terrorism, murder, abetting terrorism, and attempted murder, offenses they allegedly committed between July and September this year in Lwengo, Masaka, and Kyotera districts.

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