The High Court in Kampala has ordered city lawyer Male Mabirizi to pay Shs 300 million for attacking a Judge.
Last year, Male Mabirizi dragged Capital Market Authority (CMA) to court challenging its decision to approve Initial Public Offering (IPO) of MTN (U) Ltd. Upon Court ruling, Mabirizi made controversial statements on various social media platforms which are calculated to bring the then presiding Judge Justice Phillip Odoki into contempt and to lower his judicial authority.
“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.
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.
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.
Court ordered Mabirizi to pay Shs300 million, to stop attacking judicial officers in future and also meet the costs of the application.