Kampala — Socialite Sulaiman Kabangala Mbuga, alias SK Mbuga, is set to be released from Al Awiir Central Jail on medical grounds, a judge in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has ruled. He has been held there for eight months.
Mr Mbuga, however, has had a life ban on travelling to UAE slapped on him. It also remains unclear whether he will be brought to Uganda or be handed over to Sweden to face other charges.
Mr Mbuga and his wife, Ms Viviene Chebet, are wanted in Sweden on allegations of defrauding a Swedish national. Our sources in Dubai tell us that if Mr Mbuga is to be brought to Uganda, his family should expect him in the country anytime.
Uganda government officials have in recent months engaged the authorities in UAE over Mr Mbuga's arrest, our sources say, just like the government has intervened in the cases of many other Ugandans held over other offences in the country.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Oryem Okello recently told this newspaper that Mr Mbuga had asked the Ugandan embassy in Abu Dhabi to intervene and have him released from jail, which the minister said the embassy staff were working on.
"As government, we are not interested in whatever case he is charged with. What we are interested in, like any other Ugandan who may be abroad and in distress, is to get him released," Mr Oryem said.
Mr Mbuga was arrested in January over, among other accusations, claims that he issued a bad cheque of $250,000 (about Shs900m) to a businessman in Sweden.
It is not clear how Mr Mbuga managed to access a judge even after failing to pay the Dubai businessman.
In UAE, a person suspected of fraud is locked away in jail until they pay their debtors. It is only after clearing the debt that one appears before a judge for sentencing. We could not establish whether Mr Mbuga paid his debts. There were also no details on what medical grounds Mr Mbuga tabled before the judge.