When Lukwago was arrested by Tumwine for Besigye's refusal to speak in court

When Kizza Besigye was arrested in 2005, he appeared before Gen. Tumwine in the Army General Court Martial and Tumwine asked him to enter his plea but Besigye kept quiet. Then Gen Tumwine switched to Runyankore, “Iwe Besigye, oine amatu nohurira ninga tokuhurira?”(meaning; Besigye, do you have ears? are you hearing or you are not hearing?).

Besigye (left) and Tumwine

Besigye had just returned from exile on October 26, 2005. He was arrested on November 13, 2005. Before he was nominated on December 13, 2005 as the presidential candidate for the 2006 elections while in Luzira.

Besigye had been charged with treason alongside 22 others, including his late brother Joseph Musasizi Kifefe. They were accused of masterminding rebel attacks under the alleged People’s Redemption Army.

The Army Court martial wanted to charge Besigye with the same offenses and keep him on remand as President Museveni was campaigning.

In the dock, the chairman of the court martial General Tumwine read for him the charge:

“Colonel Kizza Besigye and 22 others, you conspired to overthrow the government of Uganda using arms. Are you guilty or you are not guilty?”

Besigye looked at him angrily without saying a word. Gen. Tumwine repeated the charges and called for a plea, but Besigye kept quiet.

Then Gen Tumwine switched to Runyankore, “Iwe Besigye, oine amatu nohurira ninga tokuhurira?”(meaning; Besigye, do you have ears? are you hearing or you are not hearing?)

The whole court burst into laughter. This angered Gen Tumwine. Counsel Erias Lukwago interjected: “My client does not recognise this court. That’s why he can’t enter any plea.”

“Why are you speaking for him? Can’t he speak for himself?” Tumwine said.

“But I am his lawyer,” Lukwago said.

Gen Tumwine then said, “Do you know that I can sentence you for that?”

Lukwago said, “You can’t sentence me. You would have to charge me, try me, convict me and then sentence me. But as an officer of the court, I have immunity here.”

Tumwine then ordered the arrest of Lukwago, his partner Caleb Alaka, and another colleague.

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