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Mabirizi demands clarification on Entebbe Chief Magistrates relationship with Mao

Lawyer Male Mabirizi in court.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Lawyer Male Mabirizi has asked Entebbe Chief Magistrate Stella Maris Amabilis to explain whether or not she is related to Democratic Party President General Norbert Mao.

Mabirizi says Amabilis must recuse herself from the case in which he instituted private criminal proceedings against Mao and Gerald Siranda, the DP Secretary General.

He claims that in 2020, Amabilis participated in securing bail for lawyer Nicholas Opiyo in the Anti-Corruption Court where he was charged with among others money laundering. “Bail was granted to Opiyo…Opiyo is a brother to Mao and unless otherwise clarified, you are a relative to Mao,” Mabirizi said.

While Mao and Siranda were absent in court, they were represented by Mukasa Mbidde, Eric Ssengendo and Justine Ssemuyaba who opposed Mabirizi’s prayer that Amabilis should recuse herself from the case.

Ssemuyaba said Mabirizi should produce concrete evidence to prove that Amabilis will not be impartial or has a conflict of interest and will thereby deny Mabirizi a right to fair hearing as provided for in Article 28 of the 1995 Constitution. He noted that it is unavoidable for judicial officers to know accused persons and complainants but they are required to be impartial because they have been trained and taken oath of office.

But Mabirizi insisted on Amabilis explaining whether or not she is related to Mao. He says the Constitution (Recusal of Judicial Officers) (Practice) Directions, 2019 require judicial officers to step down once they have a conflict of interest or lack impartiality.

Entebbe Chief Magistrate Amabilis adjourned the case, saying she will deliver her ruling on Mabirizi’s application for recusal.

Mabirizi wants to prosecute Mao and Siranda on charges of being a common nuisance, disobedience of statutory duty and conspiracy to defraud by seeking a lucrative ministerial appointment as President General of the Democratic Party when his term expired earlier.

President Yoweri Museveni and Mao signed the Memorandum of Understanding on July 22nd, 2022 at State House Entebbe as leaders of the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM Party and Democratic Party respectively.

However, Mbidde said Mabirizi’s application to prosecute Mao and Siranda aims at “merely annoying” the two DP leaders because they were elected at a delegates conference held on 18th and 20th of September 2020 in Gulu city.

But Mabirizi objected, saying Mbidde is discussing the merits or demerits of the case and yet Amabilis has not yet ruled on whether or not to charge Mao and Siranda.

Amabilis agreed and asked Mbidde to wait for her decision.

Mbidde also asked court to dismiss Mabirizi’s application to prosecute Mao and Siranda because he is currently serving a jail term of 18 months arising from his endless battles with judicial officers over contempt of court.

But Mabirizi said the law does not ban convicts from suing or being sued.

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