By Spy Uganda
High Court Judge Musa Ssekana has ordered Lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi to cough a fine of Shs300million to the Ugandan government for contempt of court by attacking Judge Justice Phillip Odoki using his social media accounts.
All these stem from a case Mabirizi filed against Capital Markets Authority (CPA) to court, seeking to block MTN Uganda’s Initial Public Offer (IPO) that the company announced intending to sell some of its shares to Ugandans.
On November 15th, 2021 High Court Judge Phillip Odoki delivered a ruling on preliminary points of law which had been raised in the above application.
Following the delivery of the said ruling, Mabirizi made contemptuous comments and utterances on his Twitter and Facebook which are calculated to bring the then presiding judge into contempt and to lower his judicial authority before and after the final determination of the suit in respect of court proceedings.
He is said to have been arguing the merits of the suit and suggesting that the trial judge should rule in his favor.
“Notice Of Appeal filed challenging the illegal ruling by Judge Phillip Odoki who failed to decide on legality of CMA Uganda approval of MTN IPO sale of shares hiding in a technicality that I lack sufficient interest in ‘a public offer’ ‘shame on him,” Mabirizi allegedly said on his socials.
Upon Mabirizi’s statements, the Attorney General petitioned court seeking its power to declare that respondent is in contempt of Court. He also wanted the court to order Mabirizi to be committed to Civil prison for contempt of Court for six months.
In his ruling, the High Court Judge Musa Ssekana said the statements posted tended to lower the authority of Justice Odoki and the High Court, by suggesting that a ruling was not valid or had no legal effect and that it should not be accorded any respect by the public.
“By attacking the authenticity of the ruling, the Respondent’s statements tended to undermine the confidence of the public in whether judicial decisions of Justice Odoki and the High Court or judiciary can be relied on as valid and genuine, which would tend to prejudice the public interest in the administration of justice,” Ssekaana ruled.
Justice Ssekana said the statements amounted to contempt in as far as they imputed wrong motives to the Judge’s judicial acts and decisions, and further that they tended to negatively affect the administration of justice by undermining the confidence of the public in the rulings of the said Judge and by extension the High Court.
“This court cannot continue to be in a ‘mute mode’ as the authority of the court is under attack. Such attacks on the judicial officers should be condemned in the strongest terms since they have become ‘endangered species’ by social media and usually cannot defend themselves against such attacks,” he ruled.
It is from the above background that Court ordered Mabirizi to pay Shs300 million or imprisoned for six months but also warned to stop attacking judicial officers in future and also meet the costs of the application.
However, Male via his social media has revealed that Ssekana’s ruling is null and void and intends to challenge it.