Kampala Associated Advocates Calls Out Justice Minister Mao Over Alleged Judge Interference

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Top city law firm Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA) has called out Uganda’s minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Hon. Nobert Mao for his intervention in a legal dispute the law firm is handling, citing Judicial interference.

In a letter seen by the LegalReports addressed to the Minister, the law firm is dismayed by the Minister’s “request” of the Principal Judge Justice Flavian Zeija to call the file in the case of Francis Ishanga & Anor (applicants) Versus Bank of Baroda (Uganda) & 2 others (respondents) where the law firm is representing one of the respondents – a woman identified as Kellen Karemera who purchased a piece of land in Mbarara advertised by the Bank of Baroda after the Applicant and his company – “New Mugisha Ltd”  defaulted to pay the bank’s loan.

According to the law firm, its client purchased the property in question, was registered on the title, and then sought to take over possession of the property when the applicants applied for an interim injunction from the High Court of Mbarara to forestall the takeover.

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The Deputy Registrar at the Mbarara High Court Nanteza Zulaika dismissed the application for the interim injunction after finding that the applicant “slept on his rights way too long when he left the bank to advertise, sell, and transferred the suit property into the names of the 2nd respondent ( KAA’s client).”

“ The court considers this as a process which was most likely commenced with the knowledge and consent (implied from the loan agreement) of the applicant who had a right to prevent/stop the same in its initial stages or before the 2nd respondent acquired an interest in the property in issue. In the circumstances of this applicant, I do find that granting an interim order to restrain the 2nd respondent from taking possession of the property she bought following a foreclosure process pending the hearing and determination of an application for temporary injunction would not be in the interest of justice as provided by the law.” The Deputy Registrar decided.

 

Now, the law firm says that Hon. Nobert Mao’s letter to the Principal Judge who heads the High Court asking him to call this case file and for the Uganda Police to prevent the client from enjoying possession of the land she bought is “ contrary to the clear orders of the Court that recognized that New Mugisha [Ltd] has no claim ” and therefore it is in contempt of the court orders.


Justice Minister Nobert Mao/Courtesy Photo
Justice Minister Nobert Mao/Courtesy Photo

“ This will amount to interference with the independence of the Judiciary. It should be noted that in Mbarara, New Mugisha [Ltd] applied for recusal of the first Judicial officer. The said Judicial officer recused herself and now there is a new Judicial officer slated to hear the temporary injunction. Before the hearing can commence, your letter is asking for a recall of the files. This would mean that the work of the Judiciary is being interfered with.” The law firm says, asking for a meeting with the Minister to iron out these issues.

“Your letter also makes your office a new avenue to abuse the court process. If someone has gone to Court and lost, there are appeal processes in the law. The ministerial office is not an appeal process and should not be used as such.”

In response, according to a media report, Hon. Nobert Mao called his action an “administrative” one and not a “judicial” one.

Apparently, per the report, Nobert Mao wrote to the Principal Judge at the behest of Mbarara City North MP Robert Mwesigwa Rukaari who asked the Minister to intervene “on behalf of one of his voters.”

“ You know me as [a] strong advocate for Judicial independence, but I am also a strong advocate for judicial accountability if at all there is an abuse. I sought the intervention of the Principal Judge because he is their supervisor and that is all I did.” Justice Minister Nobert Mao is reported to have said.

Kampala Associated Advocates’ letter is just one of the ever-increasing cries in the legal community for Judicial independence especially against interferences by the Executive branch of government.


Benjamin Ahikiiriza is a Legal Writer And Digital Communications & Marketing Specialist majoring in Lawyers, Law Firms And the larger Legal Sector.

Benjamin currently Works as the Director of Content and Business Development At LegalReports.


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