Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and city tycoon Ben Kavuya have been dragged to court over the violations of restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the #Covid-19 pandemic.
A Soroti-based lawyer attached to M/S Otee Associated Advocates, dragged Minister Kutesa, businessman Ben Kavuya, his wife Barbara Kavuya and their grandson Isaiah Tiba Byabashaija, to court over violating restrictions on international travel.
A complaint on oath that was filed at the Buganda Chief Magistrates court states that the grievance relates to the breach of Public Health (Prohibition of Entry into Uganda) and subsequent instruments related to the containment of the #Covid-19 pandemic.
“On the 24th day of March 2020, the Minister of Health, in the exercise of powers conferred upon the Minister by s.36 of the Public Health Act, Cap 281 passed into law, an Order prohibiting the entry into Uganda of any person, article or thing with effect from Monday 23rd March, 2020,”the complaint reads.
It added that: “That said Order was to remain in force until 23rd
April 2020 but was extended by subsequent orders and statutory instruments and
remains in force to date”
There was public uproar when Minister Kutesa granted Mr Kavuya exclusive permission to fly in his family from the United States, circumventing a ban on international flights that has been imposed the government to contain the spread of the #Covid-19 pandemic.
However, Mr. Kutesa claims that the case was more of blackmailing
“It is blackmail because who is a complaint in that case. Just ignore”
Mr Kavuya told this website that the whole purpose of the case is targeting money. That is stupid of whoever filed that case because it wasn’t only his family on the flight.
“How do you sue a three months baby who is under age?, why target three when they were more than 10 people on the flight”. Mr. Kavuya said.
Public Interest Case.
n a Sunday afternoon call, Otee said the case was filed due to “public interest”.
“Our concern is, that this is a Covid crisis and if it a crisis enough to prohibit persons from entering the country, we are concerned why particular people should while the regulations have prohibited others,” he said.
[The government has promised to repatriate Ugandans stranded abroad but is yet to confirm a day when they’ll start flying in.]
He said Kavuya himself was not sued because they “don’t have evidence that he asked them to come in”.
Secondly, the law is particular, i.e. it’s about those who come in.
“We are just following the law… the person who authorizes… Mr. Kutesa authorized an aircraft into Uganda, Ethiopian Airlines, that’s against the law,” Otee said.
“The law says do not bring in anything, Mr. Kutesa brought in aircraft, that’s his offence,” he emphasized.
“The person who brought in the aircraft must be accountable. We are concerned with how we are governed and who governs us.”
DPP Weighs in
According to Otee, the Directorate of Public Prosecution wants to take over the case.
“What happened is, they tried to ambush us… the DPP is trying to take over…they want to take the case over from my prosecution,” he said.
“… the law says that when a complaint is filed, the magistrate should investigate and issue a formal charge sheet and summons,” he clarified.
“Before the magistrate can issue a summons or charge sheet, the DPP is saying they want to take over… now we’re saying, what are you taking over? You can’t take over a complaint, you can only take over a criminal proceeding.”
He says the proceeding hasn’t commenced because the magistrate hasn’t drawn a charge sheet or summons to call them to court.
“Instead of telling Kutesa to defend himself, the government is instead trying to defend him,” Leonard Otee said.
Otee referred me to Nicholas Opiyo, the executive director of Chapter Four Uganda, whom he brought on his team to fend off DPP from controlling the case — for more details on the matter.
Opiyo couldn’t talk at the time I called, citing a meeting.
Jameson Karemani Karemera, the Judiciary public relations officer, said he didn’t have details of the case, but promised to find out and revert.
However, he said as long at the case has been registered, the DPP has the right to take over.
The hearings are already progressing and they’ll be appearing in court again on Monday.