The Observer Wins Kanyeihamba Case

After 75 weeks without retired Supreme court judge George Wilson Kanyeihamba showing serious interest in his defamation case against a Kampala lawyer and The Observer, the High court has dismissed the suit with costs.

In his judgment, Justice Stephen Musota last Monday allowed a suit filed by the defendants’ lawyers, Simon Tendo Kabenge and Mwene Kahima, urging him to dismiss the case for want of prosecution. Justice Musota also granted costs to the defendants, Dr James Akampumuza, and James Tumusiime, The Observer managing director, both of whom were in court.

On the other hand, Kanyeihamba, the plaintiff, was neither in court nor was he represented as the judgment was read. In October 2012, Prof Kanyeihamba sued Dr Akampumuza and The Observer alleging that he had been defamed in a press statement published by this newspaper as an aert in December 2011. In the said statement, Akampumuza took exception of a notice authoured by Kanyeihamba and published in New Vision and Daily Monitor editions of December 16.

He questioned the capacity under which Kanyeihamba had issued the notice of annulment of marriage of his (Akampumuza’s) client, one Hope Mwine Cove, to one Frank Mwine. Kanyeihamba later claimed the aertorial statement had defamed him. He said the statement implied that he is not ethical, acts criminally, practises law illegally and obstructs justice.

“The plaintiff shall aver and contend that the defendants’ defamatory press statement in The Observer was malicious, wanton, grossly reckless and intended to malign the otherwise good reputation of the person of the plaintiff,” Kanyeihamba stated in his suit.

But along the way, the plaintiff suffered several setbacks in the pursuit of his case, one of which was last month’s dismissal of his application that sought to quash some aspects of the written evidence that the defence had lined up. He alleged that some of the evidence was scandalous, but failed to persuade the court accordingly, leading to the application’s dismissal.

The other was his lawyers withdrawing from the case in May. In a May 23 letter to The Observer’s lawyers, MS Kania amp Alli Aocates amp Solicitors, Kanyeihamba’s lawyers in the suit, said they were no longer instructed to represent the plaintiff.

“Take further notice that from this point onwards, all correspondences, letter, process and documents pertaining to this matter should be served on the plaintiff personally or upon a lawyer duly instructed by him,” they wrote in a letter copied to Simon Tendo Kabenge amp Co. Aocates, representing Dr Akampumuza and The Observer.

In response, Kanyeihamba on May 28 wrote through Emmanuel Orono, an aocate at his law firm: “Prof G.W. Kanyeihamba is surprised that you have withdrawn from the case. He only complained that [the] instructions he gave as a client to your firm were not being complied with.”

In his judgment, Justice Musota agreed with the defendants’ lawyers that 75 weeks was more than enough time for the plaintiff to prosecute the case, but this had not happened all this long.

Source : The Observer

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