25 November 2012

Uganda: Mbabazi Daughter Ordered to Pay

A Commercial court judge has given Nina Kemigisha Mbabazi, daughter of Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, three months to pay a Chinese company Shs164 million for motorcycles supplied to an associate company or face arrest.

Jing Cheng International Trading Ltd (JITL), a Kampala-based Chinese company sued her in 2009 to recover Shs 233.6m being the cost of motorcycles allegedly supplied to Ms Mbabazi and her company called Star Fish Limited (SFL).

Though Mbabazi first denied JITL's claim, lawyers for the two parties entered into a consent judgment on December 6, 2010, in which she and her company were ordered to pay the said money in full and in nine equal monthly installments of Shs 23m, beginning January 31, 2011.

She only paid three installments, forcing JITL to seek a warrant of arrest against her on April 18, 2012. Nina however, filed an application challenging both the payment of the money and the warrant of arrest. The application was heard by the Commercial court judge Geoffrey Kiryabwire. During the hearing, Mbabazi argued that the said consent judgment, decree and a warrant of attachment in execution were entered in error because they relate to her as an individual yet she has never personally entered into any transaction with JITL.

She said she acted as an agent of SFL which has a separate legal entity. Ms Mbabazi said she neither admitted liability nor took over SFL's debts. Furthermore, that she neither personally executed the consent judgment nor authorized her lawyers to do so. In his defence, Ding Toa, the JITL Managing Director, said Mbabazi was aware of the consent judgment and decree and even paid his company part of the decretal sum (Shs 69m) without any coercion.

In his ruling, last month, Justice Kiryabwire ordered Mbabazi to pay the money due to JILT in full.

"In the premises, the applicant's [Ms Mbabazi's] application to review or set aside the consent judgment fails. The execution is, however, irregular and is accordingly set aside. The applicant being partly successful, I award her half of the costs of the application."

Shortly after the ruling, Ms Mbabazi's lawyers J.M. Mugisha and Severino Twinobusingye said they were still dissatisfied with the ruling. Justice Kiryabwire gave her 90 days to appeal failure of which JITL's lawyers from Lukwago & Co. Advocates can reapply for a fresh arrest warrant in case she does not pay.

"We're waiting for the three months to elapse and in the event there is no step taken, we shall reapply for the arrest warrant as advised by court and go for [Nina]," Abdallah Kiwanuka JITL's lawyer, told The Observer on Friday.

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