The High Court in Ireland has ordered anonymous Facebook user Tom Voltaire Okwalinga aka TVO, to pull down a Facebook post he put up disparaging city lawyer Fred Muwema.
In TVO’s post, he indicated that in the period before the presidential elections in February 2016 Muwema, who was counsel for former presidential candidate John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, had broken into his own offices and caused the disappearance of several affidavits sworn to support Mr. Mbabazi’s presidential petition, lodged against declared winner President Yoweri Museveni.
After losing the elections Mr. Mbabazi lodged a petition in the Supreme Court challenging Mr Museveni’s victory, but this was after Muwema had withdrawn from representing Mr Mbabazi.
In the ensuing debacle counsel Muwema asked Facebook to reveal to him the identity of TVO in order to ensure his public stature (Norwich Pharmacal Order) and also have the offensive post put down; kicking of a protracted legal battle that also drew in Ugandan human rights lawyer and activist Nicholas Opiyo to represent TVO.
And, delivering a ruling yesterday, Mr Justice Donald Binchy, ruled that TVO delete his posts, giving the anonymous ‘poster’ 14 days in which to effect the court decision.
Indeed, Justice Binchy had earlier heard counsel Muwema’s case lodged against Facebook after the online social media platform rejected pleas to reveal TVO’s identity on the grounds that the latter was a person at ‘risk’, wanted by the government of Uganda for some of his previous posts that had rubbed the Ugandan authorities here the wrong way.
‘One of the reliefs sought by the plaintiff included an order directing the defendant to provide the plaintiff with any details which it holds relating to identities or locations of the person or persons operating a Facebook page under the name ‘Tom Voltaire Okwalinga’ “(TV)” on whose Facebook page the postings were made. In other words the plaintiff sought a Norwich Pharmacal order with the intent of identifying the name of the person responsible for the postings concerning the plaintiff’, reads part of Justice Binchy’s 26-page ruling.
However, in a kind of win-win situation, Justice Binchy ruled that TVO’s identity remain anonymous.