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What Uganda is Missing with Mabirizi’s 18 Months Jail Term

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Mabirizi once told Uganda Radio Network that he wanted to be remembered for having been a champion for the rule of law and a Ugandan who did what was within his means to challenge those with power if their decisions did not follow what is provided in the laws.
07 Jul 2022 16:59
Male Mabirizi in Court.


City lawyer Male Mabirizi commonly known for frequenting both Ugandan courts and East African Court of Justice defending the rule of law has been in jail since February 21st 2022.

Unless otherwise released on bail pending the determination of his intended appeal against 18 months in jail, Mabirizi is to be in Luzira until late 2023.

But before he was sent to prison, Mabirizi could not spend a month without petitioning court on what he seemed to see as irregularities, decisions made unreasonably in the government and those marred with procedural improprieties. 

In most of his cases, Mabirizi has challenged the Attorney General of Uganda, businessmen, his money-lending clients who fail to return his cash, his relatives, individuals and even his king, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi of Buganda Kingdom which many of the kingdom subjects considered as an abomination and disrespectful.

He once told Uganda Radio Network that he wanted to be remembered for having been a champion for the rule of law and a Ugandan who did what was within his means to challenge those with power if their decisions did not follow what is provided in the laws.

What are some of Mabirizi's outstanding cases and what did he seek from court? Uganda Radio Network brings you 36 of Mabirizi’s cases filed between 2015 and 2022. 

1. Mabirizi Versus Kabaka

In 2016, Mabirizi filed a suit before the high court challenging Kabaka's authority over land. In his suit, Mabirizi asked court to declare that contrary to popular opinion, the Kabaka is not a landlord but only a trustee of the land in the kingdom.

2.In another suit filed in April 2017, Mabirizi wanted court to issue temporary orders stopping Buganda Land Board from issuing lease titles to bona fide bibanja holders. As a result, High Court Judge Patricia Basaza ordered Kabaka Mutebi to produce bank statements of all the money the Mengo administration has collected from people living on the kingdom land.

 

Court also demanded the particulars of all mailo land returned by the government, bearing the name of the county, block and the plot numbers and details of all those occupying the kingdom land and the amount each occupant has paid since 1993. But Kabaka appealed up to the Supreme Court and won the case. 

3.In 2015, Mabirizi sued the Kabaka for refusing to implement a traditional court ruling (Kkooti ya Kisekwa)which found that the head of the Kkobe Clan was occupying the seat illegally.

Mabirizi’s late father was one of the heads of the sub-clans in Kkobe.

He later in 2020 challenged the mass ground rent collection exercised by the Buganda Land Board from all the occupants on Kabaka’s land.

4.Mabirizi Verses Attorney General Over Age Limit 

1n 2017 Male Mabirizi petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging the decision by Parliament and Cabinet to scrap the lower and upper age limit for the position of the top most job in the country, the president.

He also challenged the decision by the legislators to extend their term of office from five to seven years. Although Mabirizi lost on the former, he succeeded on the latter thereby saving the country from spending billions of money on MPs who would illegitimately be receiving salaries and allowances for the additional 24 months. In effect, Mabirizi caused the overturning of an illegitimate constitutional amendment

5.Mabirizi Vs Attorney General Over Museveni Directives on COVID-19

In March 2020, Mabirizi asked the court to quash the directives issued by President Museveni in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which included the closure of several categories of institutions like churches, bars, factories, schools and banned musical concerts among others for 32 days.

Mabirizi argued that the President has no powers to regulate people in the prevention of a contentious and infectious disease through a mere resolution without being backed up by any statutory instrument or order. But his case was deregistered from court records before it could even be heard.

6.Mabirizi Petitions Parliament Over Late Lokech Appointment

In December 2020, Mabirizi petitioned the then clerk of Parliament Jane Kibirige asking her to block the appointment of the late General Paul Lokech as Deputy Inspector General of Police on grounds that his appointment was illegal, and that he was a military officer unable to do policing effectively.

7.Mabirizi Vs Attorney General Over Magambo, Byabashaija and Kasigazi Appointments

In February 2022 Mabirizi sued the government over the re-appointment of Johnson Byabashaija as the Commissioner-General of Uganda Prisons because he is above the 60 years’ retirement age.

He also asked the court to review the appointment of Major General Geoffrey Tumusiime Kasigazi as the Deputy Inspector General of Police and the promotion of Tom Magambo from private to the rank of Major and subsequent appointment as the Director of Criminal Investigations Directorate in the Uganda Police Force.

8.Mabirizi Vs Attorney General Over Kakwenza

In January 2022, Mabirizi petitioned the East African Court of Justice seeking to declare the trial of satirical Novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija on offensive communication charges a nullity. Kakwenza has since fled the country and sought refuge in Europe. 

9.Mabirizi Vs URA Over Tin Numbers for Land Buyers

In December 2021, Mabirizi petitioned the High Court in Kampala seeking to quash the directive by the Uganda Revenue Authority-URA, requiring buyers and sellers of land worth 10 Million Shillings or more to have a tax identification number (TIN). 

10.Mabirizi Vs Kenyan Attorney General Over Maize, Poultry Ban

On March 11, 2021, Mabirizi sued the Kenyan government challenging its two directives one issued of January 14, 2021, and another on March 5, 2021, banning the importation of maize and chicken products from Uganda.

11.Mabirizi Challenges Kyagulanyi Trial in Court Martial

In July 2018, Mabirizi filed a petition in the Civil Division of High court challenging the trial of the then  Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine in a military court arguing that the court-martial had no jurisdiction to try civilians.

12.Mabirizi Sues Over DTB-Ham Court Decision  

On October 13th, 2020, Money Lenders Union Limited together with their Secretary-General Mabirizi petitioned the East African Court of Justice asking them to quash a commercial Court decision that ordered DTB Uganda and Kenya to refund all the money that was illegally taken from businessman Hamis  Kiggundu’s accounts amounting to 34 billion shillings and 23m dollars (85 billion Shillings) immediately.

13.Mabirizi Sues Government Over Internet Shutdown

On January 21, 2021, Mabirizi sued the government demanding for compensation of unused data that was lost to the telecommunication companies due to the shutdown during the just concluded general elections. 

14.Mabirizi vs Attorney General over Extra Judicial Killings  

In November 2021 following the bomb attacks at Central Police Station Kampala and IPS building, Mabirizi petitioned the East African Court of Justice over the  extra-judicial killings of terrorism suspects in the country. He asked the court to declare that it is unlawful for the Uganda government’s security agencies to kill someone when that death has not been sanctioned by a competent court of record.

15.Mabirizi Vs Attorney General Over EACOP  

On May 18th 2021, Mabirizi petitioned the court to compel the government to reveal the details of the East African oil pipeline agreement that the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments signed with oil companies. But the Solicitor General has since advised the Ministry of Energy not to give out copies of those agreements on grounds that they contain a confidentiality clause that bars the parties from disclosing the contents.

16. Mabirizi Vs Attorney General Over UPDF entry in Congo

On December 6th 2021, Mabirizi sued the government of Uganda seeking a declaration that the entry of the army,  the  Uganda People's Defense Forces  into the Democratic Republic of Congo is illegal.  

He said this was because there are three situations in Ugandan laws where the UPDF is allowed to move out of Uganda. The situation enshrined in the Constitution says that the UPDF can go outside the country when there is a declaration of war against a certain country, when they are going for a peacekeeping mission, or for a peace enforcement mission.

"Given their past actions as confirmed by International Court of Justice, the entry into and remaining in the Democratic Republic of Congo is likely to be used by UPDF officers and commanders to loot for their personal benefit after which the burden will be sent to Uganda citizens", Mabirizi stated in that case.

 

17.Mabirizi Vs Attorney General Over Vehicle Tracking Devices

In July 2021, Mabirizi petitioned the High Court in Kampala challenging the decision by the Cabinet requiring every motor vehicle and motorcycle to be fitted with tracking devices at owners’ cost.

18.Mabirizi Sues Pastor Bugingo Over Bigamy

On December 8th 2021, Mabirizi sued pastor Aloysius Bugingo of House of Prayer International seeking orders that he should be convicted and sent to jail for bigamy because of having married Susan Makula in a traditional function before divorcing his wedded wife Teddy Bugingo.

19.Mabirizi Sues EAC Secretary General  

In September 2020, Mabirizi sued the East African Community secretary-general, Ambassador Libérat Mfumukeko over his press statement in which he accused him of misusing the Community's emblem among other allegations. 

 

20.Mabirizi Vs Owiny-Dollo in criminal proceedings

In March 2022, Mabirizi instituted private criminal proceedings against the Chief Justice of Uganda Alfonse Owiny-Dollo.

The charges arose from the proceedings of the Presidential Election Petition by former Presidential Candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, and the ensuing altercation that disrupted the Supreme Court where it was alleged that he (Owiny-Dollo had confiscated the minority ruling of Justice Esther Kisakye.

Mabirizi subsequently drafted a charge sheet with two offenses; one of showing disrespect to court proceedings and another for causing obstruction or disturbance in the course of a Judicial proceeding. He then submitted them before the Buganda Road Chief Magistrate asking her to issue a warrant of arrest against Owiny-Dollo such that he can come to take plea and then get convicted on the two offenses against him.  

 

21. Mabirizi Sues Government Over Jailed MPs

Mabirizi in September 2021 asked the Constitutional Court to quash the criminal charges against the Kawempe North Member of Parliament, Muhammad Ssegirinya, and his Makindye West counterpart Allan Ssewanyana for having been brought against them illegally and therefore in bad faith.

22.Mabirizi Vs Attorney General Over Election of late Oulanyah as Speaker

In May 2021, Mabirizi petitioned the East African Court of Justice challenging the procedure leading to the election of the late Jacob Oulanyah as the Speaker of Parliament. This he said was on grounds that the election was marred by a number of illegalities such as announcing of vote results higher than the ascertained number of MPs present, deployment of Uganda People’s Defense Forces in Parliament and convening the first sitting of 11th Parliament in absence of a proclamation by the President.

23.Mabirizi Sues Over November Riots  

In December 2020, Mabirizi asked the East African Court of Justice to compensate the families of people who lost their loved ones during the November 2020 riots across the country, where more than 50 people died.    

 

24.Mabirizi Sues over Presidential Nominations

Mabirizi in November 2020 petitioned the East African Court to cancel the nominations of presidential candidates saying there was procedural impropriety and a number of illegalities that were reportedly made by the Electoral Commission and therefore they resulted into unfair nominations.  

25.Mabirizi sues over Decision to Declare Museveni Duly Elected President

On April 13th 2021, Mabirizi  petitioned the East African Court of Justice challenging the decision by the Supreme Court to declare Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as the duly elected President of Uganda, after his immediate challenger Robert Kyagulanyi had withdrawn his petition.Mabirizi relied on Section 59(2) of the Presidential Elections Act which states that “where a petition having been filed, is withdrawn by the person who filed it or is dismissed by the Supreme Court, the candidate declared elected shall conclusively be taken to have been duly elected president".

On this, Mabirizi indicated that the Presidential Elections Act does not give powers to the Supreme Court to declare a person duly elected upon withdrawal of the Petition. But instead, such a declaration can only be made once the petition has been heard up to its logical conclusion which was not the case with Kyagulanyi’s petition. 

26.Mabirizi Vs Attorney General Over Release of Idle and Disorderly Suspects

In 2019, Mabirizi sued the government challenging President Yoweri Museveni’s directive to release suspects arrested for being idle and disorderly saying procedurally wrong.

He said Museveni had directed the Inspector General of Police to release the suspects yet the law states that the President has to act on the advice of Prerogative of Mercy Committee where the procedure is that the committee advises him on whether a certain convict should be pardoned or not. 

27.Mabirizi Challenges Proposed Bail Reforms  

On October 20th 2021, Mabirizi petitioned the High Court seeking to quash a memo reportedly written by Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka to change the law saying that a person should be charged in courts within 48 hours to only count 48 hours of working days of courts. He also challenged the statements by President Museveni saying that bail for capital offenders should be scrapped.

28.Mabirizi Sues Bigirimana Over Allowances for Judicial Officers  

Mabirizi in 2019 sued the Judiciary Permanent Secretary, Pius Bigirimana for scrapping the 30 percent allowance for judicial officials that the cabinet had approved in 2014.

29.Mabirizi sues government over  deployment of soldiers in Police

On August 13th 2019, Mabirizi petitioned the Civil Division of High Court seeking to quash the appointment of army officers into Uganda Police Force.

He specifically challenged the appointment of Brig Sam Bakasumba, Brig Godfrey Golooba, Col Jessy Kamunanwire and Col Sserunjogi Ddamulira by President Yoweri Museveni. But he has since lost this case. 

30.Mabirizi Sues Tamale Mirundi Over Defamation

In March 2019, Mabirizi sued Tamale Mirundi, the former presidential advisor on media affairs for alleged defamation.  In the case, Mabirizi alleges that Mirundi defamed him while appearing on 107.9 Pearl FM on a talk show held on March 23, 2019 where Mirundi claimed that he (Mabirizi) is occasionally used by the then Foreign Affairs minister, Sam Kutesa who was reportedly interested in taking over the job of the speaker of parliament which was at that time occupied by Rebbeca Kadaga. 

31. Mabirizi Vs Justice Ssekaana

In February 2020, Mabirizi petitioned the Judicial Service Commission seeking an order to remove Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana from the Office of the Judge due to alleged misconduct.  He has also since filed a petition before the Inspectorate of Government asking them to investigate Ssekaana’s wealth which he claimed was a result of illicit, corrupt and fraudulent ‘administration of justice’ where parties to cases before him who are willing to pay have options either to pay in cash or kind.

Ssekaana and Mabirizi's fights started way back in 2019 during the hearing of an application challenging the decision by justice Simon Byabakama to continue working as the Electoral Commission chairperson without relinquishing his powers as a justice of Court of Appeal.

In the proceedings, Ssekaana told Mabirizi to submit his "rubbish" when he accused him of bias. Mabirizi vowed never to appear before Ssekaana voluntarily.

On February 15th, 2022, Ssekaana found Mabirizi guilty of contempt of court, saying he had continued to use his social media platforms to attack judicial officers. He directed police to arrest him upon sight and take him to prison.

Ssekaana argued that this was in contempt of another order that he had made on January 27, 2022 directing Mabirizi to pay a fine of 300 Million Shillings the first time he was found guilty for attacking Civil Division Judge Phillip Odoki, and issued a strong warning against him to desist from attacking judicial officers.

According to the evidence before the court, the posts were made after Odoki had dismissed Mabirizi’s application that sought to restrain Capital Markets Authority-CMA from extending the MTN Initial Public Offer -IPO window and listing their shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange on grounds that the company was not well incorporated in the country.

Mabirizi was later arrested and carted off to jail on February 21st 2022 where he has since been.  Had he not been in jail, where he still files cases from, especially those demanding for his release, it is not clear how many cases he should have filed in the last three months and a half.

Most of his cases had already been determined, and it is his incarceration that will slow down those that aren't, even as he usually files them in the public interest, not for his personal benefit.

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