Court

High court dismisses case by Lubowa faction against UJA Leadership

The High Court in Kampala has dismissed the case filed by five journalists led by DailyMonitor’s Abubaker Lubowa against the leadership of the Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) challenging the planned general election that was scheduled for February 25th, 2023.

Uganda Journalists' Association (UJA) President, Mr Mathias Rukundo

KAMPALA, UGANDA: The High Court in Kampala has dismissed the case filed by five journalists led by DailyMonitor’s Abubaker Lubowa against the leadership of the Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) challenging the planned general election that was scheduled for February 25th, 2023.

Justice Musa Ssekaana in a Friday ruling held that Lubowa and his group sued UJA, its Rukundo and Secretary General Emmanuel Kirunda using a wrong procedure since (UJA) is not a public body and does not derive its 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 the 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.

The Case

Abubaker Lubowa (DailyMonitor) and his four colleagues including Zambaali Bulasio Mukasa, Emmanuel Nkata, Hasifu Sekiwunga, and Martin Kimbowa sued UJA, its current president Mathias Rukundo, and secretary general Emmanuel Kirunda accusing them of barring, stopping, eliminating and ejecting them from contesting as candidates for elective positions in the association.

The aggrieved journalists 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.

Through their lawyer, Mr George Musisi, the five had challenged the decision of UJA, the current president, and its secretary in rendering them as applicants not able to pass through the stages of nomination as candidates for the elections.

However, through their lawyers, UJA, the current president, and its secretary stated that on December 12, 2022, UJA issued a communication setting out a road map for the upcoming elections and the intending candidates picked nomination forms, paid nomination fees, and submitted the requisite documents for vetting.

They further stated that on February 3, 2023, UJA sent emails to the aspiring candidates notifying them whether they had made it through the vetting process successfully or otherwise. The same email was sent to unsuccessful applicants setting out the reasons.

Judge Ssekaana on Friday dismissed the case with costs and ordered the petitioners (Lubowa, Zambaali and three others) to pay costs to Rukundo and his group.

The decision made by court on Friday 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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