Lawyer Sues UCU Tribunal for Illegal Detention

Human rights lawyer, Yasin Ssentumbwe alias Munnagomba has dragged the Uganda Christian University-UCU tribunal before Mukono High Court for allegedly ordering his illegal detention. 

Ssentumbwe petitioned the High court through his lawyers at M/S Gem Advocates because the university ignored his demand for an apology after the tribunal unreasonably detained him under the mango tree next to a staff toilet under the watch of security guards. The lawyer had appeared before the university tribunal on August 12, 2022, to represent Ruth Kigongo and Elizabeth Nakawombe who were summoned for a disciplinary hearing.

The tribunal was chaired by its vice chairperson, David Mugawe, a senior legal officer, Samuel Kiragye, director of human resources, Florence Nakiyingi, the University Chaplain, Rev. Paul Wasswa Ssembiro, Dr. Geoffrey Mulindwa, Sylvia Musiime and Rev. Prof. Christopher Byaruhanga as members. 

He notes that it was unjustifiable to invite armed security guards to the tribunal hall who harassed and ejected him from the hearing, denying him an opportunity to represent his clients as prescribed by section 66 of the Employment Act. He says the action degraded him as a human rights defender besides causing him distress.

“The Chairperson ordered four angry armed guards to forcefully take me out of the hall. They surrounded me and ordered me to move out with my hands raised up. The guards pushed me before detaining me under the mango tree until the end of the hearing.” Ssentumbwe indicated in the application.

Ssentumbwe wants the university to pay him Shillings 50 million for the unconstitutional and unchristian manner in which its tribunal acted towards him. The University Vice Chancellor in Charge of Finance and Administration, David Mugawe who chaired the said tribunal, says the motion and affidavits filed before the court by Ssentumbwe contain falsehoods and they have asked the court to strike them out with costs.

Mugawe says the applicant was allowed to guide and support the two employees but not as an advocate but he became disruptive and several times loudly interrupted the proceedings despite being politely cautioned not to disrupt.

“The applicant frequently advised Ruth Kagingo not to respond to questions put up to her despite my guidance as the chairperson that cooperation was necessary to enable the tribunal to give her affair hearing but the applicant became violent and started shouting at the members of the tribunal,” Mugawe notes.

He refutes claims that the applicant was detained under the mango tree and explains that he was instead offered a waiting space at the Vice Chancellor’s office reception area but he chose a public space in the compound where he felt more comfortable. Mukono High Court Deputy Registrar, Elizabeth Akuro has set February 27 to hear the matter.

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