The High Court in Kampala has issued an order for a fresh hearing of a case involving accusations against Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Nobert Mao.
The allegations include the fabrication of a false document and forgery of the minutes from a Democratic Party Delegates’ meeting.
Criminal Division Judge Paul Gadenya Wolimbwa made this decision in response to a successful appeal filed by Kiwanuka Mayambala, the President General of the Democratic Party, along with the National Chairman and the Secretary General, Gerald Siranda Blacks. T
hey challenged the Law Development Centre Court’s dismissal of charges filed against them by Male Mabirizi, acting as a Private Prosecutor.
On September 9th, 2022, Mabirizi, as a Private Prosecutor, filed a complaint under oath against the trio, accusing them of forgery, presenting a false document, and conspiring to defraud.
According to the court proceedings, on September 3rd, 2021, at the Electoral Commission Office and Democratic Party office in Central Division, Kampala City, a false document was created. This document claimed to be the minutes of the Democratic Party Delegates Conference held from September 18th to 20th, with the intention to deceive both the Electoral Commission and the public.
Mabirizi further accused Mao and the others of conspiring to present this false document to the Electoral Commission and defrauding the members of the Democratic Party.
Essentially, he alleged that the trio forged the minutes of the delegates’ meeting, falsely claiming that it took place at Sir Samuel Baker School in Gulu City during the COVID-19 lockdown, where they supposedly reviewed the Democratic Party leadership for five years. However, Mabirizi asserted that this was a sham.
On December 15th, 2022, the LDC Magistrate Martins Kirya dismissed Mabirizi’s complaint under oath, citing his failure to provide a letter from the local Chief to support the complaint.
The magistrate also stated that Mabirizi did not demonstrate that the Director of Public Prosecutions, responsible for criminal prosecutions, had neglected her duty, and that the court lacked territorial jurisdiction to handle the matter.
Dissatisfied with the decision, Mabirizi appealed in the High Court on February 8th, 2023, raising five grounds of appeal. These included the magistrate proceeding with the case in the absence of the accused, whom he refused to summon, as well as the magistrate’s lack of jurisdiction.
Mabirizi also argued that the magistrate erred in dismissing the complaint due to the absence of a letter from a local Chief, a duty imposed on the magistrate under the Magistrates Act, among other claims.
He requested the court to set aside the LDC court’s decision and reinstate the matter for a determination on its merits, with the accused persons appearing for plea taking.
In the judgment, the Judge agreed with Mabirizi that the trial magistrate erred in both law and fact, and overturned the decision. The Judge pointed out that the magistrate failed to consult the local Chief of the area where the complaint originated.
Furthermore, the Judge clarified that the presentation of a letter from the local Chief is discretionary for a complainant and not a requirement for an oath to be considered valid.
A complaint under oath can only be deemed incompetent based on jurisdiction, the establishment of a prima facie case, or the filing of frivolous and vexatious claims.
The Judge emphasized that it is the primary responsibility of the magistrate, when presented with a complaint under oath, to consult and gather facts from the local Chief. If a complainant provides such a letter, it is seen as a favor to the magistrate, but it is not mandatory.
Additionally, considering the current laws and the jurisdiction of the LDC Court, which replaced the Kampala City Council, the dismissal of Mabirizi’s complaint was done in error.
Consequently, the Judge ordered a fresh hearing of the case and directed the Deputy Registrar of the Criminal Division to ensure compliance with the directive.
In August 2022, Mabirizi also filed common nuisance charges against Constitutional Affairs Minister Mao and Siranda of the Democratic Party.
The charges were related to their signing of a 42-clause memorandum of understanding with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni from the ruling National Resistance Movement at State House Entebbe.
Mabirizi alleged that Siranda, Mao, and others, who are still at large, signed the document, falsely representing themselves as Chairman of the NRM, which was an act not authorized by law and caused annoyance or inconvenience to the public.
These actions occurred between July 20th and 27th, 2022, even though their respective five-year terms had expired in 2020.