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Businessman Ham Kiggundu petitions Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo, cites bias at Supreme Court in UGX. 120 billion latest fallout

City businessman Hamis Kiggundu has appealed to the chief justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo to rein on the Supreme court to hear and determine his application for judgment

City businessman Hamis Kiggundu has appealed to the chief justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo to rein on the Supreme court to hear and determine his application for judgment

City businessman Hamis Kiggundu has appealed to the chief justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo to rein on the Supreme court to hear and determine his application for judgment.

Ham, who is represented by lawyers Fred Muwema and Arnold Kimara, wants the Supreme court to determine the admission of illegality by Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) in their protracted Shs 120bn legal battle.

“My Lord Chief Justice, we have been instructed to write to the panel hearing the above appeal which you head to communicate our clients’ apprehension of apparent bias which has been exhibited by court’s refusal to hear and determine the above application,” reads part of the petition.

The matter is before a five-member panel of justices led by Owiny-Dollo, Opio Aweri, Faith Mwondha, Percy Tuhaise and John Mike Chibita.

This stems from a December 1 decision by Didas Muhumuza, the assistant registrar of the Supreme court, to decline to process the hearing of Ham’s application on grounds that it did not raise any new issue and that what Ham seeking would be taken care of in another pending judgment between the two parties.

However, Ham suspects bias and reasons that since applications to the Supreme court are not determined by views of the registrars, his application should be forwarded to the justices of the Supreme court.

Ham and DTB are already battling in the Supreme court over a related matter that has been argued before the High court. Both parties have already made submissions and the difference with Ham’s new application is that it is based on DTB’s submissions.

“At the time of writing this letter, our client’s application remains in limbo with a possibility that its propriety will not be investigated and yet it can be rendered moot by the final decision of the court which is due any time,” reads the petition drafted by Muwema.

“Our client believes that except for apparent bias, there is no reason why they are denied a chance to be heard and possibly succeed on the appeal when his application for judgement on admission is considered.”

BACKGROUND

In August 2020, Ham petitioned the High court after Shs 85 billion and Shs 34 billion were allegedly illegally deducted by DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya from two accounts of his companies without his knowledge and consent. The companies are

Ham Enterprises and Kiggs International Uganda Limited. In October, 2020, justice Henry Peter Adonyo ruled that DTB Uganda became a principal offender by facilitating the commission of an offense by allowing DTB Kenya which did not have a license to operate in Uganda to do financial businesses in the country.

Adonyo said the banks, which were represented by Kiryowa Kiwanuka (now Attorney General), needed to be penalized by their illegal actions and that they did not have any defense whatsoever for withdrawing the businessman’s money without his consent yet he had fully paid the loans.

Adonyo ordered the two banks to refund all the money that was illegally taken from Ham’s accounts amounting to Shs 120bn. The court also ordered the two banks to return all his securities citing that the evidence on record indicates that all the loans the businessman had obtained from DTB Uganda were fully settled.

The two banks were also ordered to pay Kiggundu an interest of eight per cent of the money as well as costs for the suit.
However, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision and ordered for a retrial because DTB was not given a fair hearing.

Secondly, DTB’s other ground of appeal was that they didn’t commit an illegality as procedurally judgement was entered at High court. According to Kiggundu, this is a ground that had to be substantially addressed by the Court of Appeal.

So, Kiggundu decided to appeal to the Supreme court to, among others, address the ground that the illegality was never addressed. Both parties wrote submissions and it is from DTB’s submission that Ham finds admissions of illegality on which he based to file the latest appeal.

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