“The evidence on record is sufficient to prove that both the Twitter handles and Facebook Page-Uganda People’s Interests belong to the Respondent-Male Mabirizi and his unique headed or colored and well-designed paper with complaints to Judicial Service Commission and other agencies”, said Ssekaana.
Male Mabirizi at Court.
The High Court in Kampala
has ordered city lawyer, Male Mabirizi to pay Shillings 300 million for contempt of court following posts on his social media
platforms attacking judicial officers. The High Court Civil
Division Judge, Musa Ssekaana made the directive following a successful application
by the Attorney General.
In the miscellaneous application number 843 of 2021, the Attorney General
sought a declaration that Mabirizi was in contempt of court. He also wanted the
court to commit Mabirizi to civil prisons and, order him to pay the costs of the
Trouble for Mabirizi started on October 25th, 2021 when he filed a case against Capital Markets Authority-CMA challenging its
decision to approve the MTN Uganda prospectus in respect of its Initial Public
Offer -IPO of more than 4 billion ordinary shares to the public.
Mabirizi sought an
injunction restraining 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 matter came up before Civil Division Judge Phillip Odoki, who dismissed it with costs on November 26th, 2021 on the basis that Mabirizi did not have the locus to file the case against
CMA because he did not have sufficient interest in the public offer.
Following the court decision, the Attorney General through State Attorneys, Patricia Mutesi and Jimmy Oburu Odoi filed an
application in court to find Mabirizi in contempt of court and send him to civil prison
for a minimum of six months. They accused Mabirizi of taking to his social media platforms especially Twitter and
Facebook to intimidate and threaten Justice Odoki prior to the delivery of his ruling, imputing improper motives of his judicial acts
and decisions as well as attacking his character and competence.
argued while on Twitter and Facebook, Mabirizi started asking the judge to rule in his favor because people had rendered that CMA was wrong to approve the MTN
IPO. To prove their case, the applicants presented statements from Mabirizi’s Twitter handle
@MaleMabiriziHKK and Facebook page the Uganda Peoples’ interests.
“People have rendered the decision that @CMAUganda was wrong to approve @mtnug #MTNIPO…. it’s up to Judge
ODOKI to rule either in line with Ugandans or a ‘misnomer’,” read one of the
posts. Mabirizi attached the picture/photograph
of Justice Phillip Odoki on the post.
“Notice of Appeal filed
challenging the illegal ruling by judge Phillip Odoki who failed to decide on the legality of CMAUganda approval of @mtnug #MTNIPO sale of shares hiding in a
technicality that I lack sufficient interest in “a public offer” =shame on him,” declared another post. “@IsaacSsemakadde, we have applied 4 transcribed
proceedings which will further humiliate Judge Phillip Odoki: why did he waste
our time from 3-7 pm hearing 5 issues yet he was 2 decide 1? @CMAUganda conceded
“MTN Uganda limited” is nowhere & he is silent on it”, reads another post.
The Attorney General also presented other posts in which Mabirizi accused Justice Odoki of being incompetent and his petition to the
Judicial Service Commission seeking to remove him as a Judge for alleged incompetence,
posts of pictures of the then Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba as Odoki’s Best man on his 2009 wedding and other officials in government like former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi who
attended the wedding and could
have influenced his decision in favor of MTN.
Justice Ssekaaana asked the parties to make written submissions in the matter on December 22nd, 2021 to enable him to write his ruling on notice. However, only the Attorney General complied with Ssekaana’s
order. Mabirizi only submitted an affidavit in response to the
Attorney General’s application distancing himself from the accounts where the
posts were extracted, saying they did not belong to him and there was no evidence to that effect.
in his ruling, Justice Ssekaana has
agreed with the Attorney General and found Mabirizi in contempt of Court, arguing that his affidavit was a mere evasive denial and didn’t
give any specific
“The evidence on record is sufficient to prove that both
the Twitter handles and Facebook Page-Uganda People’s Interests belong to the
Respondent-Male Mabirizi and his unique headed or colored and well-designed
paper with complaints to Judicial Service Commission and other agencies”, said Ssekaana.
Adding that “therefore,
the Respondent did not specifically deny Mr. Oburu’s factual statements that he
owns the said media accounts or that he made the contemptuous comments, which were attributed to him”.
According to Ssekaana the
posts also tended to lower the authority of Justice Odoki and the High Court,
by suggesting that a ruling was not valid or had no legal effect and that it
should not be accorded any respect by the public.
“By attacking the authenticity of the ruling, the
Respondent’s statements tended to undermine the confidence of the public in
whether judicial decisions of Justice Odoki and the High Court or the judiciary can
be relied on as valid and genuine, which would tend to prejudice the public
interest in the administration of justice”, added Ssekaana.
Ssekaana also reasoned that the court cannot
continue to be in a ‘mute mode’ as the authority of the court is under attack, saying that such attacks on judicial officers
should be condemned in the strongest terms since they have become ‘endangered
species’ by social media and usually cannot defend themselves against such
Mabirizi has promised to appeal the
decision, saying that he was never given a fair hearing. He also noted that he asked Ssekaana to recuse himself from the case and he
insisted to hear it. Mabirizi and Ssekaana’s feud started way back in 2019 in a case where he together with opposition leaders
under the People’s Government
Pressure Group led by Erias Lukwago were challenging the actions of Justice
Simon Byabakama to continue working as the Electoral Commission Chairperson and
without relinquishing his powers as a Justice of the
Court of Appeal.
proceedings, Mabirizi wanted Byabakama summoned for cross-examination, which was rejected by
Ssekaana, saying that he had only listed the Attorney General as the respondent
to the suit.
insisted on his plea prompting Ssekaana to threaten to send him to
He later gave him a go-ahead
to make further submissions in what he described as ‘rubbish”. Since then, Ssekaana has made orders including
some directing the Civil Division registry not to register Mabirizi’s cases related to the recruitment of Judicial officers by the Judicial Service
Some of the cases accepted by the registry often end up before Ssekaana to the chagrin of Mabirizi,
saying that he can’t appear before
Ssekaana since he threatened to
send him to prison. Mabirizi has since filed a petition before the Judicial Service Commission seeking
Ssekaana’s removal for alleged incompetence. A similar matter is pending before the East African Court of Justice.