Kenyan Asks Court to Quash 2-Year Sentence for Threatening DPP

A Kenyan National Jared Oloo Okumu has asked the High Court in Kampala to quash the two year jail term handed to him on charges of cyber stalking and offensive communication.

Okumu was on October 11th 2022 convicted by the Standards, Utilities and Wildlife Court Chief Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu and sent to Luzira Prison where he has since been.

This was after he was found guilty of maliciously and repeatedly used his email address akumu4036@gmail.com to harass Jane Frances Abodo the Director of Public Prosecutions by sending threatening emails and attachments to her official email address jane.abodo@dpp.go.ug which she received and viewed from her computer within Kampala district, with the intention of placing her under reasonable fear for her safety. Akumu also sent threatening emails and attachments to DPP official email address with no purpose of legitimate communication.

Akumu had reportedly threatened to print out  Abodo’s photos and pin them on all bill boards across East Africa such that everyone including President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who is Abodo’s appointing authority could know that she is supposedly a corrupt person.

The problem had reportedly started when Akumu borrowed unspecified amount of money from someone and put up his truck as security. As a result, Akumu is said to have gone back to Kenya and disappeared for five years which forced the person who had given him money to sell the  truck and recover his cash.

But, when Akumu surfaced and opened up a case of theft of his car at the Law Development Centre Court in Kampala, the  victim, Deo Oguliti complained and the file was recalled to the head office where the DPP found it .

The DPP perused through the file and found that the victim had no case and consequently closed the case file and it’s when Akumu started sending her threatening messages that the lady Justice had reportedly been bribed.

Following the conviction and subsequent sentence, Akumu filed an application seeking revision of his sentence in the High Court.

As a result on  Tuesday, Akumu through his lawyers from Centre for Legal Aid led by Isaac Ssemakadde told the Court presided over by Justice Isaac Muwata that the lower court acted without jurisdiction when it conducted the impugned trial by which the accused was convicted and subsequently sentenced.

They said the lower court also acted illegally, irregularly and improperly when it reached a decision that unjustifiably and disproportionately violate the right to freedom of speech enshrined in the constitution and national Objectives hence, miscarriage of justice .

They also say the lower court acted illegally and irregularly and improperly when it conducted a trial relying on a grossly defective charge sheet thereby ocassioning a miscarriage of justice.

Ssemakadde told Court that he was convicted of the offenses already quashed by the   Constitutional Court in Andrew Karamagi ‘s petition where it was  found to be null and void , and therefore enforcement of that section was thereby stayed.

He added that there is no appeal in this decision, no order of stay of execution, and that  the effect is clear, the charging section having been declared null and void .

Ssemakadde further told Court that  the gist  of there case is  that,  the trial proceeded on a grossly defective charge sheet in four material aspects . He said these included that  there was omission of  particulars of the geo location of the applicant, computer, data or program used in sending the allegedly offending communication which  contravenes some section under  Computer Misuse Act   which was still operative at the time, and the decision of  the High  court in criminal in Dr Stella Nyanzi case against the State when she was facing similar charges but was acquitted.

He explained further that the Prosecution omitted particulars of the specific threat allegedly made by the Akumu  with the intent to place the complainant,the DPP of Uganda in reasonable fear for her safety.

”Omitted particulars of the perceived act, means or modes  allegedly used by the applicants to harass the DPP”, Ssemakadde further told court.

He added that the “count omitted particulars of reputation on numerous occasions when they said the particular threat were allegedly repeated.

Ssemakadde further told court that the Prosecution brought  a cyber crime expert who said he was instructed to identify the Internet Protocol -IP address of the alleged perpetrator and the device used.

Court heard that the witness identified two addresses without providing court with an interpretation thereof such as geolocation of Akumu  or device used at the time of the pending communication. Ssemakadde further noted that the witness  however rightly explained that the electronic communication in issue was transacted on Google servers whose location is once again  unspecified or  unknown.

“In the Stella Nyanzi case, this court was clear in it’s finding that there is no excuse in cyber crime to fail to find geolocation of the requirements under section 30(3) of the Computer Misuse Act  because cyber crimes leave something called a digital footprint or digital trail, IP address which is defined as the geo location and unique device identifier in relation to a particular crime or transaction or crime.”, Said Ssemakadde.

As such, Ssemakadde  said , the geo location, of the aforesaid requirements was an essential ingredient of the offense in so far as it pertains to the territorial jurisdiction of the court and it was a Jurisdiction fact which has to be specified in the particulars of the offense.

He thus asked Court to release his client immediately to avoid further violation of his constitutional rights.

But the Prosecution led by State Attorney Timothy Amerit was not prepared to make a response. Amerit said he was holding brief for State Attorney Jonathan Muwaganya who has not appeared in court and , he has now been given up to July 4th 2023 to respond.

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