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    INSIDE STORY: How Top Judges Have Kicked Off Early Lobbying To Catch M7’s Eye To Replace Chief Justice Dollo, Deputy Butera, Principal Judge Zeija Jobs…



    Judiciary bosses Flavia Zeija (L) the Principle Judge, Richard Butera the D/CJ and Justice Dollo the CJ (R)

    The mighty Grapevine has exclusively learnt that there is clandestine lobbying among top justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and the High Court to catch the eye of the appointing authority President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni so that he considers them as potential replacements to retiring Chief Justice Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny-Dollo and his deputy Richard Butera.

    According to the judiciary, the Chief Justice Dollo is expected to retire in January 2026 and it is highly likely that he will not be part of the Supreme Court panel that will hear the coming presidential elections petition in case its results are contested like it has been in almost all previous elections.

    CJ Dollo will already have clocked the retiring age of 70 years.

    His deputy Justice Butera is also expected to retire in January 2025 and it will be upon President Museveni to appoint their replacements.

    However, highly placed sources in judiciary have revealed that some top officials in the judiciary are already lobbying by sweet talking to Justice and Constitutional affairs minister Norbert Mao and Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka to accommodate their proposal of lift the age limit for justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal so that they can stay on the bench until they die as it is in the United States of America.

    Mao recently revealed that very soon, he is going to table before parliament proposals which government wants to make in the constitution.

    Judicial officers who talked to theGrapevine in the course of investigating this story noted that chances are too low to lift the age limit for judges from the constitution in the coming expected constitutional changes.

    “When there was a debate on the Administration of the Judiciary Bill, 2018, such proposals were brought with a lot of support from respected members of the public but it was unsuccessful. Justice Steven Kavuma, who was then the acting Chief Justice and deputy chief justice tried to put up a spirited fight and many thought because of his good relationship with President Museveni, his proposal was going to be allowed but it was also blocked,” a senior judicial officer said.

    Recently, Chief Justice Dollo was quoted saying that he feels bad when he sees energetic Supreme Court and Court of Appeal justices retiring when the country still needs their experience to serve Ugandans.

    Junior judicial officers who are fighting to take over judiciary top positions were very bitter with the CJ’s comments.

    Sources said that according to calculations, Justice John Mike Chibita is leading the race to replace Chief Justice Dollo and those lobbying for him base their argument on his closeness and his good working relationship with President Museveni previously.

    Before being appointed the Director for Public Prosecutor (DPP), Chibita was working in State House’s legal department and in 2020 he was appointed to the Supreme Court.

    At the Supreme Court, there are other senior justices in Chibita’s rank like controversial Justice Esther Mayambala Kisakye who is the most senior justice at the Supreme Court and is expected to retire in 2030 if she survives the ongoing impeachment process.

    Justice Benjamin Kabito, the chaiperson of Judicial Service Commission recomended to President Museveni that justice Kisakye be investigated on offences of indiscipline.

    It should be remembered that justice Kisakye contested in the previous Chief Justice race and was defeated by Justice Dollo.

    Others who are potentially capable include Court of Appeal Justice Catherine Bamugemereire who has successfully chaired two Commissions of inquiries; the Land probe and the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) probe.

    Sources however said that the problem with Bamugemereire’s candidature is her decisions when it comes to the interests of the members of the deep state.

    Other justices at the Supreme Court whose candidature cannot be overlooked once they tender in their applications include; Justice Elizabeth Musoke, Justice Stephen Musota, Justice Christopher Ezama Madrama, Justice Faith Mwondah and Percy Tuhaise who are nearing retirement.

    Sources said that the most contested position is the office of the deputy chief justice because of the people who have interest in it.

    Sources revealed that because of the presence of Dr. Flavian Zeija, the principal judge, there are some judicial officers who withdrew their interests and are now concentrating on fighting to replace him.

    “People are seriously fighting for those positions. I remember one person sold his house in Nakawa Division to facilitate the lobbying. So I don’t blame them for starting the lobbying early,” a source said.

    Others in the race include Justice Chebolion Barishaki, one of the senior justice at the Court of Appeal.

    Justice Oscar Kihika, the former head of legal at the NRM Secretariat and senior justices of the Court of Appeal who include; Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Justice Irene Mulyagonja, Justice Eva Luswata, Justice Fredrick Martin Egonda-Ntende and Justice Hellen Obura.

    Another position that they are highly competing for is the office of the principal judge and a number of Muslim lawyers are lobbying and mobilizing support for their own; Justice Musa Ssekana, the head of the Civil Division of the High Court.

    “At first he wanted to be promoted to the Court of Appeal but we think being the principal judge is more beneficial than going to the Court of Appeal,” a Muslim lawyer told theGrapevine.

    But there are other senior judges who also have interest in the position.

    They include; Justice Stephen Mubiru, the head of the Commercial Division of the High Court and justice Monica Mugenyi of the Court of Appeal.

    Jameson Karemani, the judiciary spokesperson recently said that the process by the Judicial Service Commission to recruit more justices at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court is underway.


    By Sengooba Alirabaki



    Mayiga In Panic Over M7’s Planned Invitation To Visit Bulange To Celebrate Shs10bn Deal He Sealed With Buganda Clan Heads…



    Maverick Buganda Kingdom Premier Charles Peter Mayiga is panicking after President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni finalized plans to visit Bulange Mengo to celebrate the Shs10bn deal he sealed with Buganda clan heads last month.

    The mighty Grapevine exclusively revealed that Buganda clan heads through Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo the State Minister for Information Communication and Technology have written to President Museveni asking him to accept their invitation to officially hand over the 2 acres piece of land he bought for them to transform their economic status and livelihood.

    Highly placed sources in Buganda clan heads council intimated to theGrapevine that the decision to invite the president was reached after the clan heads received the land title which is going to be registered in the names of their private company.

    Sources said that last week, a section of Buganda clan heads led by; Samson Nabimba Lukabyo, the head of Kinyomo clan and Sam Lubega Magandazi, the head of Ngabi clan met the retired Archbishop of the SDA Church Pastor Dr. John Kakembo at his home who handed over the land title to them which is going to be transferred into the names of Abataka trust company.

    Sources divulged that Kakembo gave them all the required documents they needed to transfer the land title and signed for them the transfer forms which they gave to their lawyers to proceed with the process of transferring the land title.

    Sources added that the council of clan heads has managed to re-register their Abataka trust company which was deregistered by the Uganda Registration Bureau (URSB) for not fulfilling the requirements including filing the annual returns.

    The new appointed directors include Mayiga’s blue eyed boy Omutaka Augustine Kizito Mutumba, the head of Kobbe clan and the speaker of the Buganda clan heads council.

    The process to take possession of the land was concluded and the land was leveled and very soon before the end of this week, minister Ssebugwawo is going to inspect the land.

    Afterwards, they will organise prayers thanking the president for the gift and the Archbishop of the Anglican Church, Dr. Stephen Kazimba Mugalu is expected to lead prayers in the presence of President Museveni as the guest of honour.

    Sources added that the clan heads wish to meet their boss Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, the Kabaka of Buganda who has been out of the country tomorrow receiving medical attention.

    “Our executive(Buganda clan heads) promised us that when they meet Mayiga to discuss strategies on how to solve the differences which he created with us, he told them that Kabaka Mutebi, the head of our council, is ready to meet us.

    When it happens, it will be a miracle because we know, the same people who promised that we will meet the Kabaka have been the one preventing us from meeting him for over ten years now,” one of the clan heads said.

    He added that the reason why they wanted to meet the Kabaka is to show him the gift president Museveni gave to them and also ask him to accept their invitation to attend the ceremony where they will be officially receiving their land from the president before the end of this year.

    However, it should be remembered that Mayiga told Buganda parliament that Kabaka was not informed about the meeting between Buganda clan heads and Museveni.

    Mayiga disclosed that such uncoordinated movement of troops is aimed at dividing Buganda Kingdom leadership which he vowed not to accept.

    Buganda Kingdom spokesperson Isreal Kitooke Kazibwe last week, confirmed to theGrapevine that a select committee was established to lead mediations between Mayiga and the clan heads.

    Sources claim that he is set to meet clan heads one by one and talk to them to establish their grievances. The report on the findings will be fundamental during their meeting with Kabaka.


    By Sengooba Alirabaki


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    How Rujoki’s URA Floored Airtel In Shs1.5bn Tax Debt Legal War…



    URA boss John Musinguzi Rujoki (L) and Aitrel's Manoj Murali (R)

    In a unanimous judgment, five justices of the Supreme Court lead by Chief Justice Alofonse Owiny-Dollo, and other justices on the panel who included; justice Faith Mwondha, Justice Mike Chibita, Justice Elizabeth Musoke and Justice Stephen Musota, court allowed the Shs1.5bn appeal filed by John Musinguzi Rujoki’s Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) against Airtel Uganda.

    In the lead judgment, Justice Musoke declared that it was wrong for the Court of Appeal justices to refund Shs1.5bn collected as taxes from Airtel which resulted from an overturned judgment at the Commercial Division of the High Court which dismissed Airtel’s petition.

    Justice Musoke agreed with URA lawyers led by Ronald Masamba Baluku, Barbra Ajambo Nahone, Aliddeki Ssali Alex and Agaba Edmond that Celtel Uganda, which Airtel Uganda bought in 2010 defaulted their tax obligation which led to the Shs1.5bn Court battle.

    It all started on 26th February, 2004, when URA served Celtel tax assessment consisting of excise duty, Value Added Tax (VAT) and penal tax amounting to Shs.1,024,209,566. The outstanding tax had been arrived at following an audit by URA into Celtel’s tax affairs.

    Celtel accepted liability in relation to only part of the tax debt and disputed the other part. The disputed tax debt consisted of VAT in amounts of Shs.358,652,4581 and penal tax of Shs.253, 61,6601 which led to a total of Shs.611,814,118.

    According to Court records, Celtel lodged objections against the tax debt in the Tax Appeals Tribunal.

    The record further reveals that before filing of the suit, Celtel, in accordance with the law, paid 300% of the tax debt, in the amount of Shs.183,544,2351 which was dismissed.

    Celtel filed another appeal in the Commercial Division of the High Court which was also dismissed by Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire.

    In 2010, Airtel acquired the assets and assumed the liabilities of Celtel including the tax debt which was under Court contestation and opted to pay the unpaid balance left by Celtel  which amounted to Shs. 428,269,883.

    However, URA informed Airtel that during the pendency of the tax objection proceedings, the unpaid tax had been accruing interest and that its tax liability had increased to Shs. 1,555,836,915 which Airtel protested.

    Airtel however paid the amount as assessed by URA but reserved its right to challenge the validity of the assessment in Courts of law.

    They lost at the High Court but won at the Court of Appeal.

    URA challenged the decision of the Court of Appeal at the Supreme Court insisting that Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law and facts and they wanted the Supreme Court justices to answer the key question of whether the Court of Appeal gave the correct import of Section 65 (3) of the Value Added Act, Cap. 349 (VATA) and other applicable provisions in so far as they applied to the penal tax assessed on Airtel.

    “A person who  fails to pay tax imposed under this Act on or before the due date is liable to pay a penal tax on the unpaid tax at a rate specified in the Fifth Schedule for the tax which is outstanding,” the URA lawyers stated in their submissions.

    They added that the Fifth Schedule to the VATA stipulates that the penal tax payable under Section 65 (3) shall take the form of interest, and the rate of interest chargeable as penalty shall be 2% per month.

    The lawyers added that Section 65 (3) of the VATA is applicable whenever a person fails to pay VAT tax, by the due date which under Section 34A of the VATA and is what they applied in the matter which was before the court.

    He noted that the provision is aimed at penalizing a person who fails to remit VAT tax by the due date insisting that the Justices of the Court of Appeal erred when they declared that the penal tax imposed under Section 65 (3) is suspended once Airtel objects to the assessment.

    Lawyers further noted that the Justices of the Court of Appeal erred by carrying out a constitutional interpretation exercise in its judgment yet it was not sitting as a Constitutional Court but it was sitting as a Court of Appeal and was determining an ordinary appeal thus they ought not to have based on Article 44 (c) to read a meaning into Section 65 (3) of the Constitution.

    The lawyers accused the justices of the Court of Appeal of erring when they disclosed that Article 44 (c) insulated the defaulting tax payer from the penal tax under Section 65 (3) and emphasized that Article 44 (c) which provides for access to courts had no bearing on the matter before court as imposition of a penal tax did not prevent access to courts which is the right guaranteed under Article 44 (c).

    However, Airtel lawyers led by Counsel Albert Byamugisha supported the decision of the Court of Appeal noting that they gave the correct view on the position of the law which is that a person who objects to a tax assessment is not liable to penal tax under Section 65 (3) of the VATA.

    He added that Section 65 (3) imposes criminal liability on a person who fails to pay VAT by the due date explaining that a person who lodges an objection in the Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT) does not attract such liability.

    He explained that proceedings in the TAT are permitted under Section 14 and 15 (1) of the Tax Appeals Tribunal Act, Cap. 345 (TAT Act) in connection to Section 14 which states, “Any person who is aggrieved by a decision made under a taxing Act by the URA may apply to the tribunal for a review of the decision. A taxpayer who has lodged a notice of objection to an assessment shall, pending final resolution of the objection, pay 30 percent of the tax assessed or that part of the tax assessed not in dispute, whichever is greater.”

    In her assessment, Justice Musoke noted that the tax in issue before the Supreme Court fell under Section 34 (1) (b) because it was assessed on Celtel in accordance with the provision of the law and the tax was assessed following a tax audit by URA in which it was discovered that Celtel had not been remitting VAT in relation to certain taxable supplies for the period April 2000 to July 2003.

    She added that in the first place, a taxpayer is, under Section 31 of the VATA, obliged to lodge a tax return with the Commissioner General for each tax period within fifteen days after the end of the period.

    It is only after the taxpayer has defaulted on voluntarily lodging a tax return that the Commissioner General is, under Section 32 of the VATA, empowered to make and serve an assessment on the taxpayer.

    She found out that Celtel defaulted on its obligation to timely file tax returns in relation to the VAT, and as a result, the Commissioner General made and served a tax assessment on it in accordance with the law.

    She explained that in those circumstances, Celtel was already a tax defaulter for failing to file tax returns in accordance with the law and Celtel failed to pay the tax on the date of 26th February, 2004 when it was filed with an assessment, it was also a defaulter from that date.

    “It therefore follows that the Court of Appeal erred when it ordered a refund of Shs 1,555,836,915 paid by the respondent as unpaid VAT and penal tax thereon that accrued during the pendency of tax objection proceedings instituted by the respondent. The respondent is not entitled to a refund of the said money. It will be noted that the VATA imposes a penal tax where a taxpayer defaults in paying tax on or before the due date,” she ruled.

    She further dismissed Airtel’s cross appeal challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal directing URA to return the said Shs1.5bn with interest.


    By Sengooba Alirabaki


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    Bobi Wine Faces Lawsuit For Defaming M7, NRA Rebels Who He Claimed Wore Torn Underwear And Commanded Gang Of Murderers…



    The Executive Director of the Uganda Media Center Ofwono Opondo has advised his boss President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and other members of the defunct National Resistance Army (NRA) rebel group who were aggrieved by the statements made by National Unity Platform (NUP) boss Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (Bobi Wine) to institute both criminal and civil defamation cases against him as a person instead of police intervening.

    Last week, Bobi Wine told his supporters in Luweero that in 1980, a gang of men picked guns and killed thousands of people fighting a sitting government to take power and this gang has used taxpayers money to enrich themselves.

    To drive his point home, Bobi Wine claimed that those gang men were very poor to the extent that they were putting on torn underwear and none of them had more than two underwears, but they currently own empires they have achieved via looting the country.

    Bobi Wine further accused President Museveni of masterminding the killing of top Baganda personalities.

    While responding to police’s position to stop Bobi Wine’s rally over such statement, Opondo believes that what can successfully defeat Bobi Wine is if NRA members file a defamatory case against him basing on the grounds that Museveni, who was a former minister of defense and a minister of regional corporation cannot fail to buy underwear to the point of putting on torn ones.

    He added that in 1969, Museveni had some money which he was receiving his teaching job and he used part of his salary to buy Rwakitura land which he expanded in 1986 when he captured power.

    He further explained that other NRA rebels like Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi, the security minister were not poor like Bobi Wine claims because he was a police officer before joining the bush war.

    On the issue of murdering Baganda personalities Opondo disclosed that Bobi Wine cannot adduce evidence in court placing Museveni on the scene of crime because there are postmortem reports made by medical doctors in the presence of the deceased’s relatives and personal doctors.

    The nonsense Opondo blasted police for interfering in political matters. He explained that Bobi Wine should be left to expose himself in other regions of the country as if he is a clan chief in Buganda.

    He wondered where police was when Bobi Wine’s supporters vandalized a vehicle in Mbarara a week before suspending his political rallies.

    Opondo accused NRM top leadership of sleeping on their job and failing to counter Bobi Wine falsehoods but waiting for him as a government spokesperson to respond even though they also have the capacity to do so.

    He cited Rose Nsereko Namayanja the deputy NRM Secretary General who is born of Luweero where Bobi Wine uttered these falsehoods against Museveni; and Rosemary Sseninde the NRM Chief mobilizer who are supposed to go to the same area and counter Bobi Wine’s fictions with touching evidence.

    He noted that since Museveni took power, he has been appointing people from greater Luweero to position of a minister concerning Luweero affairs but they all have failed to establish the right cause of problems in Luweero.

    However, Busiro East legislator and also one of Bobi Wine’s lawyers, Medard Lubega Sseggona warned Opondo to be very careful when advising Museveni to institute a criminal and civil suit against Bobi Wine because he will be exposed in court.

    He explained that Museveni should prove to court that he was among the gang that Bobi Wine mentioned in his statement and that he wore torn underwear.

    He challenged Opondo that Museveni has to prove that he was not part of the group Bobi Wine accused of grabbing peoples land in Buganda insisting that Museveni didn’t buy his Rwakitura land in 1969 as Opondo said and if Museveni proves so, he is ready to award him a cow for winning him.

    He was supported by veteran journalist Andrew Mwenda who relied on the declaration of late Justice Joseph Mulenga of the Supreme Court who declared that Ugandans have the right to abuse their leaders when they realise they are making mistakes.

    Civil Division Court head, Justice Musa Ssekaana declared that the sitting president has a right to institute a private case in his personal capacity against any person which is being challenged in the Constitutional Court.

    If Museveni picks Opondo’s advice, Bobi Wine is likely to dig deep into his pockets to compensate Museveni as Daily Monitor did recently by coughing Shs300m for defaming him.


    By Grapevine Reporter


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