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Monitor loses bid to block Museveni Covid vaccination defamation case

Museveni getting vaccinated against Covid-19

Museveni getting vaccinated against Covid-19

The High court has dismissed an application by Monitor Publications Limited (MPL) to halt the hearing of a defamation suit filed by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni against the newspaper in 2021.

In his ruling delivered today Wednesday, civil division High court judge Musa Ssekaana, says the suit will proceed before him to its logical conclusion, arguing that it's the court’s power to exercise discretion to stay court proceedings before it can be exercised judicially and in the public interest.

“…the same should not be used to cause delay of hearings or inconvenience to the other party or result into public mischief,” he said. 

The application by MPL arises from a suit Museveni filed through his lawyers of K&K Advocates led by his son-in-law, Edwin Karugire. Museveni jointly sued the editor-in-chief, Daily Monitor newspaper, and Monitor Publications Limited for allegedly writing and publishing an article in which they claimed that Museveni and his inner circle had received COVID-19 jabs way ahead of any other Ugandans.

The article titled “Museveni ‘inner circle’ secretly given COVID-19 jabs – US paper” quoted a story published by The Wall Street Journal, which stated that, “People close to President Museveni have reportedly received jabs of China Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine months ahead of health workers and vulnerable groups.”  

By the time of publishing the said article, Uganda was still awaiting the arrival of more than 800,000 COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccines. In his application, Museveni argued that he had dedicated over 50 years of his life to the liberation and emancipation of Uganda and Africa - to which he has received abundant recognition for his exceptional leadership role in the empowerment of Ugandans and Africans and therefore people close to him wouldn't secretly get vaccines before the citizens.

Museveni noted that the article was maliciously and without due care, published and placed on the same page below a factual story, “China gives Uganda 300,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine,” with his photograph and a visiting Chinese official.

According to Museveni, this was meant to give more credence to the false allegations by the publication. He also argued that although Daily Monitor contacted his then press secretary Don Innocent Wanyama and Health ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyona who dismissed the claims as false, they still went ahead and published the alleged defamatory story. 

Museveni notes that the article presented him as a schemer and conspirator who has engaged himself in dishonest activities of influence peddling and nepotism before the right-thinking members of the society who had started shunning him. 

“It was understood to mean that the plaintiff has abdicated his duties and obligations to frontline health workers fighting COVID-19 and other groups that are vulnerable to the pandemic. The plaintiff cannot be trusted with the high office of the President of the Republic of Uganda,” argued Museveni’s lawyers. 

To prove this, the lawyers attached evidence from dozens of people who attacked, abused, and criticized Museveni on various social media platforms, which he argued was purely calculated by Monitor Publications Limited to make money and sales. 

He asked the court to issue seven orders including one compelling Daily Monitor to pull down the said article from its website and publish an apology on all its platforms with the same prominence as the offending article and posts and with wordings agreed to by him in advance. 

However, when the matter came up for mention before justice Ssekaana mid-this year, MPL through its lawyers James Nangwala and Mugweri Nangwala informed court that they had filed a petition before the Constitutional court raising issues about the constitutionality of Museveni's suit. 

This included whether a serving president can file proceedings in court and whether in such proceedings the parties can be afforded equal opportunity as provided in the Constitution, which bars a court from granting any remedies in favour of the opposite litigant against a serving president who enjoys the immunity of not being sued. 

But in his ruling, Ssekaana notes that where a party to the proceedings before a court of law petitions the Constitutional court to determine some questions, it doesn't automatically follow that the court has to stay proceedings pending determination of the questions.

"In such a case the issue of whether or not to stop the proceedings pending the determination of the petition appears to be left to the discretion of either the trial court or the Constitutional court. The defendant’s counsel's argument that the filing of a constitutional petition should result in an automatic stay of proceedings in the lower court would be abused by lawyers or litigants who intend to frustrate the hearing," said Ssekaana. 

He cited a judgment made by the Constitutional court justices in 2012 in a case filed by Geoffrey Kazinda, the former accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister where similar reasoning was given.

“If it were otherwise, then every litigant trying to delay proceedings would rush and file proceedings in the Constitutional court. This would heavily clog not only the Constitutional court where the petitions would be filed but also the High court because the cases before it would be brought to a halt and yet filings continue daily,” he added. 

He dismissed the application and ordered that the court shall proceed to set a date for hearing Museveni's suit. The parties had earlier been sent for an out-of-court settlement, but Monitor returned to High court, saying that they had filed a Constitutional petition and asked the court to stay the proceedings.

Comments

+3 #1 kabayekka 2022-11-30 18:21
Not all who say the matter of the truth of God will go to God's heaven. To find out who will go there, look at their deeds.
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+1 #2 Akot 2022-12-01 13:11
kabayekka, agreed!

This is why Ugandans MUST STOP Museveni in UNITY, if they are to make their stand in the zone formed by their tribal lands & God!

Why has migrant Museveni tribally divided & will rule for ife & leave the post to his son?
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0 #3 Mubiru 2022-12-01 23:56
Museveni is right on this occasion to be irritated by the Monitor story which even included his family which was apparently based on falsehood.

Why then was the Wall Street Journal an American paper from which the Monitor got the story not jointly sued? The major dilemma with the Judiciary is their timidity of the man who said that he would sort out the Judiciary which he did and still continues to do.

Eminent Justice Kanyeihamba who was determined to expose the Ebola and Covid infested system and wipe it out was frustrated into retirement. An NRM lawyer has just been made a Judge.

Which judge who is what they are because of Museveni can dare to decide against him. Museveni has a valid case but the system is Ebola and covid sick and makes all Judicial decisions made in his favour dangerously suspicious.

Nabbanja whatever rubbish is blurted by the so called Justice system was right to deliver service to the woman for which Judiciary Executive and Parliament were appointed to do
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