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Ham seeks services of Judicial Service Commission to probe Principal Judge over DTB case

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Businessman Hamis Kiggundu of Ham Enterprises has petitioned the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) accusing the Principal Judge Flavian Zeija of misconduct in his case against Diamond Trust Bank (DTB).

In an October 15 letter to the chairman JSC, Mr Kiguddu, through his lawyers, wants the Principal Judge to recuse himself from any legal proceedings in regard to the case.

The businessman also wants the commission to investigate the matter.

On Tuesday, Justice Zeija issued an order blocking the execution of Commercial Court orders in which DTB was ordered to refund Shs34 billion and $23.2m (about Shs86 billion) which they reportedly deducted from Ham Enterprises’ accounts.

Zeija’s order did not go down well with the businessman who now claims the principal judge’s interest in his case is suspicious as he (Zeija) kept recalling his file in circumstances that were neither justified or in line with the ordinarily expected course of events thus interfering with the hearing of the case.

“We run to courts of law where we expect to receive justice, however, to our dismay, we have been turned into victims in this temple of justice through the unfair biased actions of the Principal Judge,” the letter reads in part.

Mr Kigunddu in his letter further alleges that since the principal judge is a former banker having served at Finca Uganda and Tropical Bank of Africa, his loyalty is inclined towards supporting banks against clients in courts of law taking advantage of his high ranking position in the judiciary to abuse the law.

“This is evident from his misconduct with our file right from the start when we filed the plaint where on various occasions he has interrupted with the file by recalling it most of the times,” Mr Kigunddu states further.

Mr Kigunddu who first petitioned the Chief Justice in his October 13th letter seeking his intervention in the matter explained that he had discovered that the mandate of handling disciplinary matters of judicial officers lies with JSC.

“We therefore, humbly request for your urgent intervention in this regard and in the interim, the principal judge should recuse himself from any legal proceedings in regard to our file, let justice prevail in line with the procedural guidelines of courts,” Kiggundu’s letter adds.

“The law on interim stay of execution does not grant the principal judge jurisdiction at all to handle such applications where he has not handled the matter,” the letter further states.

Our efforts to get the PJ’s comment failed but when contacted about Kiggundu’s claims, the senior communications officer of the Judiciary, Mr Solomon Muyita said that he had not yet seen the complaint.

However, Mr Muyita said it was within his (Mr Kigunddu’s) right to use the avenues available to get his concerns addressed.

“I believe his concerns will be addressed either by the Chief Justice or JSC and he will get the appropriate response to the issues he has raised,” Mr Muyita said.

On October 7, Justice Henry Peter Adonyo ruled that DTB Uganda contravened the Financial Institutions Act and Agent Bank regulations when it acted as a collecting agent for the Kenya based foreign bank.

“I declare that the credit defendants (Banks) breached the different loan agreements in which the applicant (Ham Enterprises) acquired between 2011 and 2019. I declare the loan facilities between parties have been settled,” he ruled.

According to the court judgment, DTB Uganda became a principal offender, rendering it liable to being penalized when it took part in and facilitated the commission of offence under the law.

Orders

Justice Adonyo also ordered Ham Enterprises to recover Shs34 billion and $23.2 million being monies that were appropriated by the defendant banks from Ham’s accounts.

He also declared that DTB Kenya is not licensed to conduct financial business in Uganda and therefore, the credit facilities granted to Ham Enterprises were irregular, null and void.

The court also cancelled the mortgages and ordered the banks to return the mortgaged property to Ham reasoning that the loan transactions were illegal

The properties which Ham Enterprises has provided include several properties at Kyaddondo, Kawuku, Victoria Crescent 11 Kyaddondo and Makerere Hill Road.

However, DTB Uganda and Kenya filed a notice of appeal challenging the judgment.

In the notice, the two banks through their lawyers of K and K Advocates noted that they were not contented with the ruling by Justice Adonyo.

“Take notice that Diamond Trust Bank Uganda Limited and Diamond Trust Bank Kenya Limited the above-named defendants being dissatisfied with the Judgement and order by Honorable Dr Justice Henry Peter Adonyo delivered on October 7, 2020, intend to appeal against the whole decision to the court of Appeal” reads the notice in part.

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