MTN Uganda has lodged a formal complaint with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in Uganda against Sylvia Nabagala, the chief magistrate of the Buganda Road Magistrates Court.
MTN Uganda said it was concerned about the magistrate’s professional misconduct, evident in her “contradictory rulings and disregard of due process”.
The complaint related to a summons issued by the chief magistrate for directors and executives of MTN to take a plea, while the court record has no formal charges and the summons did not appear in the court record.
MTN also noted that the summons was dated 7th November 2012, a day after the same magistrate had transferred the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate the allegations.
While news of the summons had been circulated in international media, MTN stated that it was not aware of the issuance of the summons. The telco added that when its legal counsel checked with the court following the press articles, they learnt that the summons had been “strangely extracted” from Magistrate Nabagala by private lawyers who had earlier been ordered to hand over the matter to the DPP.
According to the complaint to the JSC, MTN lawyers, together with the Resident State Attorney, immediately attempted to contact Magistrate Nabagala who confirmed the issuance of the summons. A check of the summons revealed that, although the order to issue them was made on the 19th November 2012, they were dated 7th November 2012, MTN said.
“There was no charge sheet on the record nor was there a record of proceedings before her between 6th November, when she pronounced her ruling in an open court with counsel for all parties present, and 19th November, when the order was supposedly issued,” MTN said in a statement.
In its complaint, MTN stated: “For the Magistrate to have allowed that obviously ill-intentioned private person to obtain criminals summons in the manner she did, thus affording him the opportunity to have the same published to the world, knowing the negative consequences that portray, demonstrates gross recklessness and absolute indifference against our client.”
MTN also stressed that the alleged complainant, Naphtal Were, was already facing charges of defrauding MTN Uganda, $5 million as well as attempted fraud of UShs. 600 million Ugandan Shillings ($225,780) from MTN Uganda. Furthermore, in the process of searching his home, the police found stolen MTN property including 11 solar power inverters, with an estimated value of 140 million Ugandan Shillings
“Without prejudice to the above statement and clarifications, MTN reserves its rights to prosecute any third party who will commit further defamation, or propagate false information to the detriment of MTN Uganda and the MTN Group as a whole,” MTN stated.