Judge Advises First Lady to Settle Case Out of Court

2622 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
High Court judge Benjamin Kabiito has advised First Lady Janet Museveni to settle out of court the defamation case she recently filed against Daily Monitor newspaper.

High Court judge Benjamin Kabiito has advised First Lady Janet Museveni to settle out of court the defamation case she recently lodged against Daily Monitor newspaper.

The advice from the judge came during Tuesday’s maiden reading of the case since it was filed mid last month. 

Lawyers for both parties welcomed the idea. Daily Monitor was represented by James Nangwala while Mrs. Museveni who did not show up in court, was represented by Edwin Karugire, her son in law.

While advising the two parties, the judge noted that this is one of the mechanisms courts are using to reduce on the case backlog before saying he has over 500 pending cases under his docket.

Court has also set September 21 to start hearing the matter just in case the two parties fail to settle it out of court.

Mrs. Museveni, who is also the Ruhaama County MP and Minister for Karamoja Affairs, sued Monitor Publications over a May 27th article that mentioned her in a land-grabbing scam in Karamoja. The story arose from a press briefing held by the Karamoja Sub-region Parliamentary Caucus members at Parliament. The MPs claimed that there was an ongoing ploy to grab mineral-rich land in the area.

The First Lady, who denies the allegations, contends that the said words in their natural and ordinary meaning meant and were understood to mean that she is a criminal, dishonest, a cheat and a fraudster who is using her position as minister to defraud Karamoja of her mineral rich land.

She is now seeking for damages, an apology and an injunction restraining Monitor Publications from publishing any further alleged defamatory statements against her.

Daily Monitor in its defense admits having published the words pleaded by Mrs. Museveni, but denies that the said publication was malicious or capable of bearing the meanings attributed to them or that it was reckless or unduly careless.

The publication further states that the impugned publication was a fair comment on the basis of a press conference utterances made by a Member of Parliament which anecdotally referred to the president’s wife being the Minister for Karamoja Affairs.