KAMPALA – Mr Mathias Magoola, the managing director of Dei Minerals International, a minerals firm, has appealed against the warrant of arrest issued against him for alleged failure to pay over Shs268b in legal fees to former minister of Urban Development Isaac Musumba.
The Commercial Division of the High Court on February 24 instructed Mr Twine Muganga, a court bailiff to effect the arrest of Mr Magoola by March 25 this year.
But Mr Magoola has hired two top law firms, Joska Advocates and ALP Advocates who on Monday, February 28, 2022, filed an appeal before the High Court, saying the Commercial Court’s registrar Juliet Hatanga, while issuing the warrant of arrest, ignored the facts of the case, and important clauses of the consent judgment the parties had signed before Commercial Court judge Hon. Justice Wangutusi in September 2019.
The money in question is 30 percent of the decretal sum of $211,459,500 that Mr Magoola and his Dei Minerals International firm, earned from Videocon Industries Ltd, a UK-India based firm, for breach of contract. Musumba had represented Dei Minerals International in a legal dispute, which saw his clients claim a compensation $211 million (over Shs700b).
But according to Mr Magoola, the key clauses of the Consent Judgment were that Musumba would only be compensated upon recovery of the money from Videocon, which has not yet been done.
“Deputy Registrar [Juliet] Hatanga …. did not at all make reference to weightier clauses of the Consent Judgment that were emphatic to the effect that payment to Mr Musumba would only be after successful recovery of money from Videocon,” Mr. Magoola’s appeal argues.
Magoola adds that before the ruling, he had explained to Deputy Registrar Juliet Hatanga that he had gotten an update from the London lawyers, showing that the execution in London is still pending in the courts and that no money as such had been received by Dei.
“We have engaged the top law firms in London and paid hundreds of thousands of pounds and we have been billed another 500,000 pounds in the recovery process. We stand to be paid over $ 230 million, and somebody thinks we have been sleeping and have not exercised best efforts,” Magoola says.
Magoola also says no application for execution was served on Dei and none appeared on the case file by the time the warrant of arrest was issued.
“Deputy Registrar Hatanga assumed that the execution process was commenced by way of Notice of Motion and Affidavit in Support, which was not the case and in fact relied on Notice of Motion filed in 2018 by Musumba, not given a date and which would have been superseded by the Consent Judgment,” he adds in the petition.
Magoola also said Musumba’s lawyers filed a Warrant of Arrest against him on Thursday 24th February 2022 yet the typed ruling was to be ready the next day on Friday, which to him was unusual for court. To date that typed ruling is not yet ready and has not been availed to the parties.
He also said the sudden change of the case from Assistant Registrar Agnes Nkonge to Deputy Registrar Hatanga may have led to this scenario, which they describe as erroneous.
According to Magoola, Registrar Nkonge had appreciated that the complaint by Musumba was that he had not been regularly updated on the progress of the recovery process against Videocon in London, and had given directions that Magoola’s lawyers in Uganda obtain an update from London lawyers and provide the same to Musumba’s lawyers and the court. According to Magoola, this was done, and the expectation was that the Musumba’s complaint had been settled.
However, when Magoola’s lawyers went to receive final ruling or further directions from Registrar Agnes Nkonge, they were told that Registrar Hatanga had called for and taken over the file on instructions of the Chief Registrar
“We wondered why Registrar Agnes Nkonge could not be let to conclude the matter she had already entertained, and had given directions on and this was going to be the day of delivering her final ruling. We felt that even if such directive from the Chief Registrar was given, Her Worship Nkonge should have been the one to hear us on that day,” Magoola’s lawyers add.
Mr Magoola, runs a multibillion pharmaceutical factory in Matugga, near Kampala. The multi-billion biological drugs and mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility, was launched by President Yoweri Museveni on July 6, 2021, and it is hoped that its construction would help “making Africa self-sustaining in health care, a giant leap”.
Franked by Kenya’s deputy President William Ruto, Dr Yonas Tegega Woldemariam, the World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, and an adviser at Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, and Dr Monica Musenero, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, the president warned government officials against sabotaging Mr. Magoola.
He said:“I congratulate the founding director Mathias Magoola, for the spirit of freedom fighting. He has suffered more from the hands of those meant to support him. My visit to the facility was therefore partly aimed at morale-boosting him and his team”.
Mr. Magoola said on Monday, that he would not hesitate to petition the President to help him out of the current court drama if the process is not streamlined.