The Court of Appeal in Kampala has dismissed an application by city lawyer Male Mabirizi seeking to be released from prison pending an appeal challenging the 18-month sentence given to him for contempt of Court.
In a decision by the Court of Appeal Justice Christopher Izama Madrama on Friday, the Judge ruled that there is no way how he can stay the execution of his arrest when it was already done on February 21, 2022, and taken to serve his sentence.
The Judge has also indicated that besides Mabirizi’s application being overtaken by events, there is no formal appeal challenging the proceedings of February 15 2022 were an order by Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana to send him to prison for 18 months arose from.
Instead, Justice Madrama indicated that what exists on-court record is an appeal challenging an order directing him to pay 300 million shillings for attacking judicial officers which were also issued by Justice Ssekaana on January 27th, 2022.
Justice Madrama issued an order stopping the government from asking Mabirizi to pay that money until the determination of his appeal was pending before the Court.
Madrama further noted that he has no powers or jurisdiction to reverse the order sending him to prison since he did not formally challenge it.
After the decision, Mabirizi tried to make submissions before the Court seeking to be released temporarily arguing that he was not given a right to be heard and he is willing to comply on any terms and conditions that will be set by Court.
According to Mabirizi, he has relatives who are in Court and many people willing to stand for him surety. He added that there is a threat to take him back to prison because he is being guarded by Prison Wardens.
Mabirizi also told Court that he doesn’t have any passport to flee the country and that he is a lawyer with many cases pending in several courts which may get affected because of his continued stay in prison.
Madrama advised Mabirizi to make a formal application for bail after hearing all his submissions.
On January 27, 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 the future but Mabirizi allegedly continued using his Twitter handle to attack Judicial officers.
However, the Attorney General later returned to Court early this month, saying that despite a January 27 2022 order warning Mabirizi to desist from attacking judicial officers, he continued making contemptuous posts on his social media platforms against him(Ssekaana) and the Judiciary.
The Attorney General who was being represented by Assistant Commissioner of Litigation Patricia Mutesi noted that in the posts, Mabirizi accused Ssekaana of being biased, incompetent, and not able to head the smallest court of a family, and one who doesn’t qualify for any award from Uganda Law Society and even for a Grade Two Magistrate. The court was informed that the rest of the posts were crafted in vulgarized language.
The Attorney General lawyers further noted that Mabirizi had described a fine of 300 million shillings that was issued against him by Ssekaana in January for contempt of Court as null and void which statement the government said was an attack on Court and Judiciary as a whole.
Mutesi thus asked the court to find Mabirizi guilty of contempt of court and be committed to civil prison.
Ssekaana accordingly found Mabirizi guilty for contempt of court for the second time on February 15th, 2022, and sentenced him to serve 18 months in prison.