Seven individuals have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven to ten years after pleading guilty to charges related to terrorism. Their admission of guilt took place at the International Crimes Division of the High Court, presided over by Justice Susan Okalany. These individuals were arrested in 2018 in connection with the murder of former Buyende police boss Muhammad Kirumira in Bulenga, Wakiso District.
The seven defendants and their associated aliases are as follows: Juma Swabalu Sekiti (alias Mayuge), Jamil Muwonge (alias Jama Moses), Ibrahim Kavuma, Daniel Kaaya (alias Shafic alias fifty cent), Luutu Kimuli (alias Mabira), Uthman Mugoya (alias Ibrahim Nawanzu), and Ibrahim Kavuma.
In addition to their guilty pleas for terror-related charges, the group also admitted to charges of aggravated trafficking in children, belonging to a terrorist organization, providing support to a terrorist organization, and two alternative counts of terrorist financing.
The sentencing handed down by Justice Okalany varied among the defendants. Muwonge received a ten-year prison term, Ssewanyana was sentenced to nine years, while Kaya, Kimuli, and Kavuma were each given eight-year sentences. The elderly defendants, Sekiti and Mugoya, were sentenced to seven years each.
During Ssewanyana’s sentencing, which involved multiple charges related to child trafficking, recruitment into ADF rebel activities, sexual exploitation, and denial of education, Justice Okalany expressed her initial hesitation in accepting his request for a plea bargain due to the gravity of the charges. She emphasized the importance of providing education to children and pointed out that Islam does not discourage it.
Justice Okalany stated, “You are supposed to raise them to become adults and be responsible, but you decided to ruin them. You have survived because if I had gone into a full trial, a 50-year jail term would have been appropriate.”
While this group of individuals has been sentenced, they were originally charged alongside Sulaiman Ismael Ssebowa, Sulaiman Ssenfuka, Andrew Kaweesi, Ahamed Ssebuwufu, and Mariam Kasujja. However, these co-accused individuals are currently out on bail and have also embraced the plea-bargaining arrangement.
Justice Okalany emphasized that she would not preside over the trials of the remaining accused persons. She stated, “I will not be seen to be rendering justice if I continue with the hearing of those remaining on the case. However, I am still available for those who want to enter a plea bargain. The files should be forwarded to the registrar for reallocation.”
The prosecution’s case against the accused individuals and others who are still at large is based on their alleged association with the Allied Democratic Front (ADF), a rebel group led by Jamil Mukulu. It is claimed that between 2015 and 2018, in various areas including Kampala, Wakiso, Masaka, Rakai, Kyotera, Buikwe, and Busoga Sub-region, the group either belonged to or professed allegiance to ADF. The prosecution further accuses the defendants of aiding, abetting, financing, or harboring acts of terrorism by providing support to ADF with the knowledge or belief that this support would be used for acts of terrorism or their preparation, commission, and instigation.