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Court Halts Mabirizi's Plea to Offensive Communication Charges

According to Mabirizi, this is not a case that needs to be rushed because the petitioner Rutaro has a personal vendetta against him, hatred and bad relationship between them which has since become sour
Male Mabirizi arriving at Buganda Road Magistrates Court

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The Buganda Road  Magistrates Court has ruled that  City lawyer Male Mabirizi cannot  take plea on charges of offensive communication until court decides on the applications  in which he is challenging the  legality of the procedure leading to the charges against him.

This was the decision made by Grade One Magistrate Sanula Nambozo on Monday when Mabirizi was summoned to take plea on charges of criminal libel, offenses prejudicial to judicial proceedings and offensive communication instituted against him by lawyer Robert Rutaro Muhairwe as a Private Prosecutor.

On February 22 2022, Rutaro instituted the three charges against Mabirizi, saying that he made statements on his Twitter handle abusing Civil Division Judge Musa  Ssekaana.

Rutaro quoted a number of posts written both in English and a local language allegedly by Mabirizi in which he attacked the judge and some of his extracts attached to his complaint are crafted in vulgar language.

"Chicken had 2be eaten to celebrate our triumph over Ssekaana and a section of judges who think that Uganda belongs to them not citizens. Of course, rule of law champion had to catch up with @[email protected] to strategize and a huge missile is on its way," reads one of the posts.

Other posts quoted say: "Ssekaana we have been on these streets deeper than you who delayed to leave Kyazanga or Kyannamukaaka show us Attorney General's application for my committal to civil prison…nga nyoko nempumi yakitawo Muyaayu gwe". (Literally abusing Ssekaana that he resembles his parents and he is like a wild cat).  

According to Rutaro, the said statements attributed to Mabirizi are ridiculous, tantamount to criminal libel and are clearly intended to lower the self-esteem and confidence of Justice Ssekaana, embarrass and shame him and to lower his reputation among the right-thinking members of the society.

Consequently, Mabirizi was summoned last week to appear in court today and be charged in relation to the said offenses.

On Monday, when the matter came up, Mabirizi declined to take plea saying that he filed an application in the High Court challenging the legality of the entire process leading to his summoning.

Mabirizi said he also filed two other applications at Buganda Road Court seeking to halt his plea taking and another seeking to set aside the summons on grounds of lack of jurisdiction and they have not yet been determined or given a hearing date.

He added that also there is a  Constitutional Petition filed by the Uganda Law Society against the Attorney General challenging the offenses under the  Computer Misuse Act on grounds that they violate the freedom of speech and it has equally not been heard.

He thus added that his address is clear now being Kitalya Min Max prison and when his applications are heard and determined, he can be brought to Court for plea taking.

According to Mabirizi, this is not a case that needs to be rushed because the petitioner Rutaro has a personal vendetta against him, hatred and bad relationship between them which has since become sour.

Previously, Mabirizi and Rutaro had jointly sued Pastor Aloysius Bujjingo for bigamy but when the latter accepted the Director of Public Prosecutions -DPP to take over the case, the duo disagreed with each other and went on social media abusing each other over the same.

But on his part, Rutaro's lawyer Precious Nahabwe asked court to reject Mabirizi's prayer saying that plea taking will not prejudice him as he can choose to plead guilty or to deny the charges because his applications haven't yet been fixed for hearing.

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Luganda Audio.

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As a result, Magistrate Nambozo  has halted plea taking saying that there is no legal basis for him to be charged before they resolve his applications.

But after her decision, Mabirizi immediately asked court to order the prison authorities to provide him with internet and computer and printing services to enable him do research to back up his applications and he promised not to access social media platforms.

But the Prisons Officers who were in Court led by ASP  Simon  Robinson Okello informed court that they needed to consult their superiors to see if it's possible or not so that court doesn't issue orders that may not be complied with.

The case was adjourned to March 15th 2022.

On February 15th 2022, High Court Judge Musa Ssekaana found Mabirizi  guilty for contempt of Court for the second time for continued attack of judicial officers. 

He subsequently sentenced him to 18 months in jail.

The sentence was handed to him barely a month after Ssekaana had strongly warned Mabirizi to desist from abusing judicial officers and subsequently ordered him to pay a fine of 300 million shillings for using his twitter handle to abuse Justice Phillip Odoki.

Mabirizi is currently at Kitalya Min Max Prison on the journey to serve 18 months jail term.