High Court in Kampala has dismissed the case filed by five journalists including Abubaker Lubowa and Zambaali Blasio Mukasa against Uganda Journalists Association (UJA), President Mathias Rukundo and Secretary General, Emmanuel Kirunda challenging the planned general election that was scheduled for February 25th, 2023.
The case was dismissed by Justice Musa Ssekaana who ordered Lubowa, Zambaali and three others to pay costs to Rukundo and his group.
In his ruling sent to the parties via email on Friday night, Justice Ssekaana reasoned that Lubowa and his group sued UJA , its Rukundo and secretary General Emmanuel Kirunda using a wrong procedure.
The judge explained that the Judicial review rules under which Lubowa and his team filed the case against UJA and Rukunda and his team only applies to public bodies.
According to Justice Ssekaana UJA is not a public body and does not derive their powers from any written law apart from the incorporation under the companies ACT.
“The characteristics of a public function are derived specifically from the law as can be deduced from the above definition. The only essential elements are what can be described as a public element, which can take many different forms, and exclusion from jurisdiction of bodies where the sole source of power is the consensual submission to its jurisdiction. The 1st respondent/UJA is a private body with no power to regulate the profession of journalism but rather the membership is by subscription and voluntary,” said Ssekaana.
The Judge also said that Lubowa and his team erroneously obtained a temporary injunction stopping Rukundo and his team from conducting their affairs or electing office bearers in accordance with their constitution and as such they should compensate them.
Lubowa and his colleagues took UJA, its president and General Secretary to Court accusing them of barring from standing for elective positions in UJA.
They had contended that there was a conflict of interest and bias on the side of the organisers of the election since both of them were candidates aspiring to retain the position of president and General Secretary.
According to Lubowa and his colleagues, this was illegal since it depicts a conflict of interest on the side of the two UJA leaders.
However, the judge dismissed their case with costs saying they filed it under the wrong law. The decision has since caused mixed reactions in WhatsApp groups where Our Reporter is a member and whereas the majority are castigating the Judge for having imposed costs on the applicants, they say the decision has helped them to know what exactly is UJA since they didn’t know that it’s a private company.
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