Kampala. Jubilating Mengo officials yesterday said they will ask court to order lawyer Male Mabirizi to pay “not less than Shs20b”, hours after the Court of Appeal dismissed his demand for Kabaka to disclose records of his financial transactions.
In a unanimous judgment yesterday, a panel of three judges led by Fredrick Egonda-Ntende ruled that courts cannot exercise their discretion to grant orders for discovery on oath and inspection based on a case that is not maintainable in law.
Other judges are Hellen Obura and Ezekiel Muhanguzi.
The financial statements Mr Mabirizi asked for included Buganda Land Board accounts with Stanbic Bank (Forest Mall Branch) and Bank of Africa (Main Branch).
Justice Ntende said the facts disclosed in Mabirizi’s case challenging the compulsory registration of people living on the king’s land, point to private rights rather than infringement of fundamental human rights or freedoms.
“No one is alleged to have been unlawfully deprived of his or her land. Neither is the land in question specified in relation to any particular person as a victim of the violation,” ruled Justice Ntende.
The ruling, which overturned a contrary June 2017 order by High Court Judge Patricia Basaza, warmed hearts at the seat of the kingdom in Balange, Mengo. “We have a top of class legal team that handles cases against the Kabaka decisively. We encourage that we settle matters natively. If you want 15 minutes of fame, you will pay costs,” Buganda Attorney General Daudi Mpanga told journalists at a hastily-convened press conference.
He said Mr Mabirizi used a “drunken style of shifting to make a case out of a groundless, but costly and time-wasting case that diverted Kabaka’s legal team and the kingdom officials’ valuable time”.
In yesterday’s ruling, Justice Ntende argued that Mr Mabirizi’s action on behalf of other persons who are not named, and whose consent he never obtained, was a representative action that is unlawful.
Besides the bank transactions records, the lawyer also wanted the list of tenants on official Mailo land and an inventory of all land leases/titles issued by Buganda Land Board.
Mr Chris Bwanika, the kingdom’s head of legal services, told Daily Monitor after yesterday press conference that Mengo will not seek less than Shs20b from Mr Mabirizi.
“He already set a mark when he asked [for] Shs23b from the kingdom. The court will base its decision during taxation and assessment on that. He may have to pay not less than Shs20b, but let’s wait and see,” he said.