23 November 2012

Uganda: MTN Files Complaint Against Judge

MTN Uganda has lodged a formal complaint with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in Uganda against the Chief Magistrate of the Buganda Road Magistrates Court, Sylvia Nabagala.

The complaint concerns Nabagala's professional misconduct in contradictory rulings and disregard of due process.

It is alleged that the magistrate issued summons for the Directors and Executives of MTN to take a plea, yet the court record has no formal charges and the said summons were not reflected in the court record.

MTN states that it was not aware of the issuance of the said summons and when their legal counsel checked with the court following the press articles, they learnt that the summons had been strangely extracted from Magistrate Nabagala by private lawyers who had earlier been ordered to hand over the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

It is further noted that the summons on Nov 7 were made a day after Nabagala had transferred the case to the DPP to investigate the allegations.

Its statement on the alleged tax evasion insists that there was no charge sheet on the record nor was there a record of proceedings before her between 6th November, when she pronounced her ruling in an open court with counsel for all parties present, and 19th November, when the order was supposedly issued.

"For the Magistrate to have allowed that obviously ill-intentioned private person to obtain criminals summons in the manner she did, thus affording him the opportunity to have the same published to the world, knowing the negative consequences that portray, demonstrates gross recklessness and absolute indifference against our client.", the complaint states.

When the complaint to the JSC, MTN lawyers, together with the State Attorney, sought audience with Magistrate Nabagala, she confirmed the issuance of the summons.

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