Through his lawyers M/S Ortus Advocates, the legislator says Kankiriho with intentions to defame, ridicule and demean his person, published and distributed defamatory text messages in a WhatsApp group belonging to members of Mitooma district.
Hon Thomas Tayebwa (Internet Photo)
The Ruhinda North
Member of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa has dragged his voter Julius Kankiriho
Rwakifari to high court in Mbarara for alleged defamation and slander on their Whatsapp
Group. The case was entered as mediation cause number 35 of 2020.
Through his lawyers M/S
Ortus Advocates, the legislator says Kankiriho with intentions to defame,
ridicule and demean his person, published and distributed defamatory text
messages in a WhatsApp group belonging to members of Mitooma district.
According to Tayebwa, the
incident occurred on January 16, 2020 in “OUR DISTRICT MITOOMA” Whatsapp Group.
He says the message that was maliciously
calculated to injure and lower his reputation as a Member of Parliament was
received by several persons.
“We are in possession
of very many other documents showing our dear HON TAYEBWA Thomas using his
office at Makerere University as Finance Committee chairman trying to dubiously
convert some Makerere land into his name in this dangerous allegation of land
grabbing in Makerere University,” Kankiriho reportedly posted on the WhatsApp
group, on January 16.
Adding that, “…our man
is implicated in many dubious deals of land in Makerere University and there is
a lot of evidence against him. So let him clear his image. Tayebwa is on this
forum, man let him clear his name here [because] he knows the stories better
than anybody here.”
Tayebwa argues that the
contents of the statements and messages by Kankiriho in their entirety meant
that he was “a crook of the highest order and land grabber; a fraudulent and
corrupt businessman; an insensitive person whose only interest in life was in
He also notes that the
statements by his voter indicates that he; “is an untrustworthy person unworthy
of high office of the Member of Parliament, unethical and unscrupulous in his
dealings with public resources and engages in criminal and illegal activities.”
Several members on the Whatsapp group including Patience Kyomugisha demanded to
have the documents as claimed by Kankiriho. They warned Kankiriho to stop
making lame allegations is lack proof of the documents. On the same day, Tayebwa posted on the same Whatsapp group asking Kankiriho to
share the documents.
“…Kankiriho [you] need to be cautious with your
statements. Whereas [you] you have been using defamatory language on other
people and they keep quiet, me I will not tolerate you brother. And by the way,
apart from the documents authored by your friends and their ghost agents, I
want you to share any credible document on this platform, or [you] withdraw
[your] statement. These documents you claim to have are about me, so I beg you
to share them here. Otherwise you are a young man whose future shouldn’t be
tarnished by useless statements,” reads Tayebwa’s Whatsapp message.
claims that despite serving Kankiriho a notice of intention to sue and asking
him to make a written apology, he remained adamant. Tayebwa had asked Kankiriho
to provide an unreserved and unconditional retraction in writing and facilitate
publication of the apology and retraction to all people that received and
viewed his post through Whatsapp.
He now wants court to declare that Kankiriho’s statements were defamatory and
issue an order restraining him from further publishing or causing to be
published the same words. He also wants court to award him general damages as
well as cost of the suit. Kankiriho has denied the accusations through his lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde of the Centre for Legal Aid. He also notes Tayebwa doesn’t refute the content as false but simply wants to gag whoever speaks about it.
In a written statement
drafted by Ssemakadde, Kankiriho argues that basing on documents in the public domain;
Tayebwa is a long-term member of Makerere University Council where he once
chaired the Finance, Planning and Investments Committee. He further says Tayebwa is the biological brother of Advocate Alexander
Kibandama of M/s Ortus Advocates (and formerly of ENS Advocates), the
investment advisor for Mak Holdings Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of
“There are numerous transactions orchestrated by the two wheeler-dealer
brothers in respect of the finances, property, investments and other holdings
of Makerere University which are not entirely on board,” reads in part,
According Kankiriho, Tayebwa’s self-description as a legislator and “eminent
businessman of very substantial standing” is false and misleading. “That
description is liable to open, robust and critical discussion, debate and
interrogation by the ‘constituents’ of Ruhinda North Constituency, the general
Mitooma District community (of which the defendant is a member), and the public
at large including his colleagues in the business community. Especially as the
country approaches the general parliamentary elections for the 11th Parliament
of Uganda,” he argues.
According to Kankiriho, his comments on “OUR DISTRICT MITOOMA” WhatsApp group doesn’t
cause any reputational damage to the legislator, arguing that such damage must
have existed long before his alleged messages appeared on the WhatsApp group.
“Firstly, the defendant (Kankiriho) merely alerted the plaintiff (Tayebwa) to
damaging reports in the public domain and urged him to break the silence and
clear his name. Secondly, content concerning his reputational damage is not
limited to the defendant’s alleged WhatsApp messages in the group, but is
freely available elsewhere on the internet, in the newspapers of wide
circulations and records of numerous state agencies.
concerning the plaintiff’s reputation has circulated the internet for as long
as he has been a member of Parliament and of the Makerere University Council,
while the defendant’s messages on the Whatsapp group appeared on or about 16,
January 2020,” reads in part, Kankiriho’s defense.
One of the documents
the defense intends to use is a January 13, 2020 letter to Professor Barnabas
Nawangwe by Sarah Acan Otim who wrote about concerned staff. Acan was responding
to the Vice Chancellor’s email to staff on January 5, 2020
clarifying a story that was published by one of the dailies
indicating there was loss of land at Makerere. The letter that was
copied to the Education and Sports Minister, the Inspectorate of Government
(IG), the State House Anti-Corruption unit details how Makerere university
officials were aiding the land loss.
“You spent university money on a benchmarking tour in other Universities
including in Malasyia. On 16 June 2014, you chose to register Makerere
University Company Holdings Limited under management and you (Professor
Nawangwe) signed on behalf of the University,” says Acan.
Adding that; “Through the rouge previous Council 2014-2018, Mak Holdings Ltd
was shielded to actualize the land grabbing agenda of the cabal. Under unclear
circumstances, Hon. Tayebwa’s Brother, Mr. Kibandama Alexander was appointed
the investment advisor of Mak Holdings and started soliciting for company’s
giveaway of Makerere University land.”
In the same document, Acan alleges that Plot 40 Katanga land located around the
roundabout below the City Mortuary was being processed for take away by Hon.
Thomas Tayebwa and Bruce Kabaasa through Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
“There are several tenants on this land with Car washing bays and recently
garages. The tenants pay money to Mr. Kabaasa Balaba Bruce from the days he was
chairperson Makerere University Convocation. …there are records in the
Directorate of Legal Affairs showing rental agreements with car washing and
revenue section of Bursars office equally have no record of receipt of the
money to show rental fees from these car washing bays,” says Acan, in a
document that Kankiriho referred to in the WhatsApp group.