Museveni vaccine case against Daily Monitor resumes

Daily Monitor lawyer James Nangwala (left) with Mr Edwin Karugire (right),  who represents President Museveni (inset), at the High Court in Kampala on July 11,202. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Monitor lawyer cautions about the unconstitutionality that will be occasioned in the alleged defamatory case.

The case in which President Museveni sued Daily Monitor over a story alleging that members of his ‘inner circle’ had been offered Covid-19 vaccines, months before frontline workers and other vulnerable groups, has resumed.

Mr James Nangwala, the lawyer representing Nation Media Group Uganda, yesterday cautioned about the unconstitutionality that will be occasioned in the alleged defamatory case.

Mr Nangwala cited Article 98 (4) of the Constitution of Uganda that he says bars a sitting president from being subjected to court proceedings.

Last year, President Museveni in his individual capacity sued Monitor Publications Limited and the editor in chief for alleged defamation.

This followed an article published on February 23, 2021, indicating that the President’s close associates had reportedly been offered Covid-19 jabs.

“This is the first case that involves the person of the President proceeding against another party. This means he is subjecting himself to proceedings before court. This raises an issue for constitutional interpretation by the Constitutional Court of Article 98 (4) that expressly bars a sitting President from liability to proceedings before court,” Counsel Nangwala cautioned.

Article 98 (4) of the Constitution states that while holding office, the President shall not be liable to proceedings in any court.

The cautioning by Counsel Nangwala followed an earlier submission by Counsel Edwin Karugire, who represented President Museveni, who had earlier informed presiding Kampala High Court judge Musa Ssekaana of how the case in point had not been settled amicably by both parties.

“My Lord, I don’t have contrary information, when Daily Monitor met my client (President Museveni), they met over other matters but not this matter. My Lord, give us a timeline for a Joint Scheduling Memorandum,” Mr Karugire submitted to court.

The presiding judge cut short Mr Nangwala’s presentation and advised the two lawyers to come up with written joint scheduling notes in which they will list issues/facts in the case that they both “agree” and “disagree” with.

The judge also advised that if there any preliminary objections like what Counsel Nangwala was raising  to have the case referred to the Constitutional Court for interpretation, then, the same should be included in their joint scheduling notes.

From the timelines agreed upon yesterday, Counsel Karugire will come up with a draft of his scheduling notes in a week’s time from yesterday, with the opposing Counsel Nangwala making his input thereafter.

The judge then set August 30 when the parties will return to court for further directions and a way forward (Legally known as mention). 

“This matter is coming up on August 30. The parties will come up with a Joint Scheduling Memorandum which shall be filed in court before that date,” Justice Ssekaana held before adjourning the matter.

About the case

Mr Museveni in his law suit claims that on February 2021, the paper falsely and maliciously, caused the publication of a story on page seven titled: “Museveni’s ‘inner circle’ Got Covid jabs - US paper”.

The vaccines that Museveni’s inner circle had reportedly been offered, according to the Wall Street Journal, an American newspaper that first reported the story, was Sinopharm from China.