By Adam Bukenya Updated at 2119 EAT
What you need to know:
Their woes stem from social media posts they made about High Court Civil Division judge Musa Ssekaana
Police in Kampala have arrested lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi to go and start serving his 18 months jail term handed to him for contempt of court.
The arrest of Mabirizi comes a week after the High Court Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana issued an order directing every Police officer in Uganda to arrest him upon sight and be taken to Kitalya Prison to serve an 18-month punishment for continued attack of judicial officers.
Kampala Metropolitan Acting Police Spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire told this reporter on Monday that he Mabirizi had been detained at Jinja Road Police Station waiting to be taken to Kitalya as ordered by Court.
“Yes he is at Jinja road Police station before being taken to Kitalya. He was arrested from Kyambogo University Banda gate following the warrant of arrest issued against him,” Mr Owoyesigyire said.
The order to send Mabirizi to jail was issued by Justice Ssekaana after finding him guilty of contempt of court for the second time. Ssekaana’s decision followed an application by State Attorney Patricia Mutesi from the Attorney General’s Chambers who argued that despite a January 27th, 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.
According to Mutesi, 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 from a Grade Two Magistrate .Court also heard that the rest of the posts by Mabirizi were crafted in a vulgarised language.
The lawyer had also described the Shs300 million fine that was slapped against him by Ssekaana last month for contempt of Court as null and void, which statement was viewed as an attack on Court and Judiciary as a whole.
Mutesi thus asked court to find Mabirizi guilty of contempt of court and be committed to civil prison which order was granted.
Last week, Mabirizi said Justice Ssekaana’s orders were illegal.
“The order is illegal because no man can be a judge in his own cause. Ssekaana having been clearly stated by Kiryowa Kiwanuka as the person allegedly abused/insulted, could not sit in the case, the same way Judge Phillip Odoki didn’t sit in the case where it was alleged that he had been abused,” said Mabirizi .
The arrest has come just one day towards the hearing of Mabirizi’s application seeking to stay execution of all orders issued by Justice Ssekaana against him including his conviction and subsequent sentencing to prison.
It is expected to be heard tomorrow before Court of Appeal Justice Christopher Izama Madrama and all parties had already put in submissions to the application. Mabirizi had also petitioned the Principal Judge Dr. Flavian Zeija to allocate other pending cases of his at the Civil Division of the High Court to a different Judge other than Ssekaana but he was yet to get feedback from the Principal Judge.
The pending applications at the Civil Division sought to set aside orders of Ssekaana for having been issued without granting Mabirizi a right to fair hearing.null
In a related development, IsaacSsemakadde been summoned by Police over alleged offensive communication against Justice Ssekaana.
Ssemakadde is required to report to CID headquarters next week on Monday.
“The directorate of criminal investigations is conducting inquiries into alleged offensive communication to the prejudice of Hom Justice Ssekaana Musa. You are required to report to CID headquarters on 28/02/2022 at 1000hrs and you will particularly report to officer in charge of cyber Crime D/SSP Kayiza Henry who will guide you on what is required,” the February 21 CID letter addressed to Mr Ssemakadde reads.
Early this month, Lawyer Ssemakade wrote to the judicially to management, demanding for the record of proceedings of the recently concluded annual judges’ meeting in Kampala.
Mr Ssemakadde, in his capacity as the executive director of Legal Brains Trust, in a February 7 letter to Chief Registrar, Ms Sarah Langa Siu, and the president of Uganda Judicial Officers Association, Justice Tadeo Asiimwe, sought to have the said proceedings for his next course of action.
At the conclusion of this year’s annual judges’ conference in Kampala on February 3, the judges jointly resolved not to entertain any form of cyber bullying by errant lawyers and court users as they go about adjudicating cases.
Lawyers Ssemakadde and Male Mabirizi were singled out as those involved in cyber bullying, a resolution that has not gone down well with the former.
“The attention of our executive director, Mr Isaac Ssemakkade, has been drawn to certain statements in the press attributed to some judges and justices who attended the above captioned conference. This is, therefore, to request for a report of the proceeding, minutes and/or resolutions of the 23rd annual judges conference,” a demand letter signed off by Ms Isabella Nakiyonga, the personal assistant to Mr Ssemakadde, read in part.
The proposal to take action against lawyers Mabirizi and Ssemakadde was brought by Anti-Corruption judge Margaret Tibulya on the closing day of the judges’ conference.
“I propose that we pass a resolution against cyber harassment in regard to counsel Mabirizi and Ssemakadde. Once we don’t discuss this now, we shall miss out,” she said.
Justice Irene Mulyagonja of the Court of Appeal chipped in and said she was in support of Justice Tibulya’s stand.
“I think we resolved that we shall not tolerate any bullying, abuse of any kind from any kind of litigants or advocates even among ourselves. So judicial officers shall take action against cyber bullying by errant advocates and litigants,” Justice Mulyagonja said.