What seemed as a clear cut case and one seemingly headed to set a precedent and earn a place in Uganda’s jurisprudence now marred with twists, turns and drama.
DTB withdrew monies from accounts of Ham despite several reminders and requests they deliberately refused to oblige with Ham’s request, as DTB took it for granted out of impunity and total arrogancy. Ham then proceeded to courts of law after he had discovered that DTB Uganda was equally trading and conniving with DTB Kenya to deal with him, yet DTB Kenya didn’t have a license to carry out financial business in Uganda contrary to sections 4 and 117 of the Financial Institution’s Act (2004), which makes it illegal for a bank to operate in Uganda without a valid license. At the trial in the High Court Commercial Division, both parties agreed on the preliminary objection of illegality and indeed the lawyers of DTB specifically Mr. kiryowa Kiwanuka admitted that his client didn’t have a license and that they didn’t need one which is recorded on court record, which means an illegality was not merely committed but it was equally admitted on court record.
Further more, the question fraudulently withdrawing monies from Ham’s accounts without his consent or approval also came into and Judgment was entered not simply because an illegality was committed but also admitted on court record as Ham’s lawyers prayed for judgment entered on admission as per order 13 rule 6 of the civil procedure rules which allows courts to enter judgement on admission of facts made in pleadings or at any stage of the suit.
DTB upon realizing that Ham was moving to execute the orders of High Court rushed through its “influential” lawyers to the Principal Judge who halted the judgement “administratively” and gave leeway for DTB who then appealled to court of Appeal and run to Justices Madrama and Buteera among others to whom they knew they would get a soft landing. Indeed as fate would have it, the Justices at Court of Appeal made an attempt to rescue DTB by not even attempting to address any of the 12 grounds of Appeal DTB had relied upon while filing the Appeal, and neither did they address the pertinent issues of illegality, but rather quickly decided to refer the matter back to High Court in total disregard of grounds brought forward by DTB and it’s lawyers led by Kiryowa Kiwanuka of K&K Advocates now the Attorney General of Uganda because they wanted to overcome the issue of admission of illegality that is already choking and biting them hard, as they already admitted the said illegalities and cannot take them back.
Ham having not found merit and logic in the decision of the Court of Appeal as to why none of the grounds as relied upon by DTB in filing the Appeal were addressed, thereby appealed to the Highest Court in Uganda being the Supreme Court. Even at the Supreme Court, DTB’s lawyer Karugire without even seeking leave of Court as the procedures provide before making supplementary submissions went ahead to try and hold Court at ransom by proposing that even if the issues of DTB having withdrawn money from Hams account wrongly and DTB operating in uganda illegality were not substantially addressed by the court of Appeal, if they are decided in affirmative (favour of Ham), it will have far reaching repercussions on the economy most especially foreign banks, and cast bad light to the banking sector. However, what ought to be noted is that, this is simply an issue of illegalities being committed and the question would be, was there an illegality in DTBs operation in uganda without a license or not, and was Ham’s money withdrawn from his accounts illegally or not?. Ham’s lawyers went ahead and further again prayed for a judgement on admission.
Being that DTB is represented by K&K Advocates a law firm belonging to the Attorney General of Uganda, his colleague Karugire has tried influencing the Justices of the Supreme Court to disregard the judgment on admission and refer the matter back to Highcourt citing the far reaching consequences if the said application is decided in affirmative in the favour Ham, and yet the main appeal cannot be determined without the main application being determined.
Ham’s case not only exposes the double standards in our country but also makes a case for the common man who has suffered at the hands of government as it tries to implement the none-tolerance to street vendors and people operating without licenses. Mr Kiryowa Kiwanuka being the Attorney General of Uganda sees no fault in DTB trying to evade Justice even when the bank and its lawyers clearly admit operating in uganda without a license. In Kampala particularly, vendors on streets without licenses have been arrested in large numbers and presented before courts of law and they are eventually thrown in Luzira yet these men and woman are bread winners and struggling to earn a living so as to sustain their families. However, the Attorney General who sees fault in Ugandan citizens who are vendors operating on streets or without licenses to earn a living cannot come up to condemn DTB for operating illegally but rather offer them protection for as long as they are paying large sums of money to his law firm this is total hypocrisy and a conflict of interest.
The judiciary has always exercised its independence and its yet again for the judiciary to stand firm and strongly pronounce itself on illegalities, because an illegality will always be an illegality irrespective of the clothing it is given. Ugandans are closely following to see if justice is only served against poor Ugandans who are struggling to feed their families and not rich multinational and foreign entities which consider Uganda a playing ground and lawless where they can commit illegalities and bypass the law.
The writer, Zahid Sempala is Spokesperson for the
Hustlers Movement Uganda