The High Court in Kampala has summoned city lawyer Male Mabirizi to appear and explain why he shouldn’t be sent to jail for contempt of court.
In the notice signed by Judge Musa Ssekaana, the lawyer Mabirizi is required to appear before his court tomorrow at 3pm and explain why he shouldn’t send him to prison.
“Whereas Attorney General has made an application to this court for you to show cause why you should not be committed to prison for a violation of a contempt of court order. You are hereby required to appear before this court on the 11th day of February 2022 at 3pm to show cause why you should not be committed to prison for contempt of court,” orders Ssekaana.
The order arises from an application filed by the Attorney General seeking to send Mabirizi to prison for contempt of court for the alleged continued use of his twitter handle @MaleMabiriziHKK and Facebook page the Uganda Peoples’ interests to attack judicial officers.
On January 27th 2022, Justice Ssekaana ordered Mabirizi to pay a fine of 300 million Shillings for contempt of court following posts on his social media platforms attacking Civil Division Judge Phillip Odoki.
This was after Odoki had dismissed Mabirizi’s application that sought to restrain Capital Markets Authority- CMA from extending the MTN IPO window and listing their shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange on grounds that the company was not well incorporated in the country. The Attorney General then filed an application for contempt of Court and it was heard and granted by Ssekaana.
Ssekaana also issued a strong warning restraining Mabirizi to stop attacking judicial officers in future but Mabirizi allegedly continued using his twitter handle to attack Judicial officers, according to the Judiciary Spokesperson Jamson Karemani.
It’s against this background that Ssekaana has summoned Mabirizi to appear in his court and explain why he shouldn’t be sent to prison.
When Uganda Radio Network – URN contacted Mabirizi over this matter, he indicated that the notice to have him committed to Civil Prison is illegal because he filed an appeal against Ssekaana’s decision and its pending hearing.
“It’s not founded on any Application by Attorney General as alleged but it’s instead a creation of the Judge to satisfy his vendetta against me. I have written to him to provide me with particulars of the Applicant and copied in Judicial Service Commission and the Principal Judge,” said Mabirizi.
The lawyer also says that he is going to file applications seeking to stay execution of Ssekaana’s decision until determination of his appeal.
In November 2020, a panel of Seven Supreme Court Justices led by the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo found Ivan Samuel Ssebadduka guilty of contempt of court for using abusive language in court.
Ssebadduka who had sued President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and the Electoral Commission had referred to the Justices of the Supreme Court as ‘a council of fools’, ‘incompetent’, ‘foolish’ among other words after they had dismissed his case for lack of jurisdiction.
Ssebadduka wondered whether the justices were ‘drunk’ to fix his petition for hearing or under influence of drugs since they didn’t have jurisdiction to hear his petition. He had warned the justices to go slow on him, saying he knows all their under-table dealings which he was willing to expose.
But Ssebadduka after being found guilty, he was sent to prison by the Owiny-Dollo led Panel to serve a jail term of three years and he has so far finished one year of his punishment.
Last week while presiding over at the Opening of the New Law Year 2022, the Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo indicated that they had a 23rd Annual Judges Conference and among the issues they resolved was not to take lightly cases of Advocates and litigants who attack judicial officers in the course of executing their duties.
The Chief Justice wondered why a Judge would make a decision and some people start criticizing his genitals, saying when you undress Judges and they remain naked, they are most likely to run into hiding and when the devil goes on rampage, one might need somewhere to find salvage.
According to Owiny-Dollo, the Judiciary is like a forest where one can hide and therefore it should never be attacked.
On the same day, the head of the bar (the Attorney General) Kiryowa Kiwanuka in his maiden speech also warned lawyers to desist from behaviors of attacking judicial officers and called upon the Law Council to whip such errant members of the bar.