By Del Wilbert Omony
There was drama at the Nakawa Chief Magistrates Court on 5th of October 2O21 when the MTN vandalism case was set for its first hearing.
The Chief Magistrate hijacked the case proceedings from the originally set presiding Magistrate. The move shocked parties in the case apart from managers of Chinese telecom company ZTE, who are highly interested in the case.
Watchdog broke the story of the fraudulent acts by some of the contractors of ZTE, a Chinese telecom equipment company that has been managing MTN infrastructure.
The extensive investigations by our reporters revealed that MTN for a long time has been incurring huge losses caused by the unscrupulous conduct of some staff in the line with servicing their infrastructure.
At the heart of this service is the contractor ZTE whose sub contractor and staff have been caught redhanded selling telecom equipment – however, ZTE is working around the clock to defeat justice.
During the investigation, Jimmy Lubega Dungu, an employee of ZTE was arrested redhanded selling Sh132million fibre cables, among other things. The cables could cover about 16km of infrastructure.
All exhibits were registered and handed over to SID Kireka and police investigations were set off.
After the investigations, the file was taken to the Resident State Attorney Nakawa and it was fully sanctioned and date for the first hearing was set during the hearing before the grade 1 Magistrate Her Worship Akello Irene two months ago.
The suspect was released on bail and was set to appear in the same Court at a later date communicated to be the 5th October 2O21 under the same Magistrate.
However, Monday the 5th October 2O21 when the Court was supposed to sit and was expected to be presided over by the grade 1 Magistrate Her Worship Akello Irene, there was a new twist to events.
The Chief Magistrate took over the proceedings from the presiding grade 1 Magistrate causing a stallement in the proceedings.
It all started in Her Worship Akello’s Chambers at 9:30am on the 5th October 2O21 when the respondents’ lawyers pleaded for an adjournment giving reasons/excuses that they had another Court session in the industrial court.
It was in her wise counsel that the magistrate accepted their plea but since all the 5 witnesses were all present in court, she adjourned the court session up to 2pm to allow the respondents lawyers attend to their other court session as per their plea.
In preparation for the intended hearing at 2pm, the investigators from Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Kireka made their way to the court premises with all the exhibits loaded on to two trucks and a double cabin pick up. It was now at this point when the Chief Magistrate His Worship Singiza Douglas saw the volume of the exhibits that he got out of his office and called the state Attorney handling the case asking her whether she had the court order allowing her to bring the exhibits to the court.
At this point, a verbal exchange ensued between the court officials including detectives from SIU bringing the court proceedings to a standstill.
In this new trend of events, all parties involved were left speechless after witnessing a scene of events that they had never experienced before.
It should also be known that the contractor ZTE Uganda has zeroed on the exhibits in this case to the extent that they through their lawyers wrote to court demanding for the exhibits before even appearing in court despite them not being the complainants and all the exhibits carry the complainant’s inscription (Mtn) apart from the pickup truck registered in ZTE names.
All this drama in the court premises lasted for about 4hours on a very rainy day making everyone involved disgusted with the whole unprofessional manner of handling issues. It was until 5:00pm that the Chief Magistrate His Worship Singiza Douglas called his junior court officials, the lawyers, the detectives and the five witnesses in this case to converge in the court room 2 for a briefing. It was in this briefing that the Chief Magistrate explained his position in this matter at hand and said he needed to do more consultation from his superiors at High Court for a better judgment on how to handle the exhibits hence adjourning the case to 13th October 2O21 for hearing.
What saved the day was the professionalism of the team from the private investigation and detectives from SIU who should be commended for the good work done in their investigations, way of handling exhibits and also standing the disturbances from court of doing double work in relation to the exhibits.
It should be noted that during our detailed investigative work that the Chinese company ZTE is working very hard to manipulate and frustrate the justice system.
In fact, one of ZTE translator Engineer Wolford Arigye the Integrated Solution Manager was arrested by detectives from SIU Kireka while sharing sensitive information to non-parties, and his phone was confiscated pending slapping charges on him and producing him before courts of law.
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