By Stephen Kasozi Muwambi
KAMPALA, Uganda: An out-of-court-settlement has turned the trial into the unpaid Ugshs10Bn case into drama with the debtor accusing the trial judge of purportedly conspiring with the lender to pass that order without his input.
But the claim comes after the debtor failed to beat the deadline within which he was supposed to implement the settlement failure of which he was to lose several of his properties to the Diamond Trust Bank (DTB). Frank Nekuusa, known more for his exploits as a former rally driver than a business personality is the one who is slamming the charges of deceit on Justice David Wangutsi.
While he is not suing the judge, Nekuusa is making very adverse claims against Wangutsi, not to mention the fact that he is suing government demanding that it pays him damages for alleged wrongs its employer allegedly visited on him. Senior counsel Godfrey Sserunkuuma Lule is prosecuting the case on behalf of Nekuusa. DTB had not filed its defense by Friday, nor had the attorney general.
The 56-year- old soft spoken Nekuusa is based in Nalukolongo industrial where he was a flourishing steel and fuel dealer before loans scaled him down a bit whilst Justice Wangutsi is the respected head of the commercial arm of the high court.
According to our investigations, Justice Wangutsi entered the consent judgment on July 13th this year. Nekuusa had held talks with DTB which agreed to reduce his liability down from Ugshs10Bn to Ugshs6.5Bn in a bid to avoid a protracted court trial. It’s DTB which dragged Nekuusa and his spouse, Stella to court for failure to pay up.
According to the consent, Nekuusa was supposed to clear the loan by October 22 this year short of which the bank would be at liberty to dispose of the securities- including prime pieces of land in Nalukolongo together with buildings thereon.
On one hand, Nekuusa concedes that such talks actually took place. But, he argues on the other that the talks were irregular. He contends accordingly that no legal consent can be derived from such talks. What rendered the talks irregular?
The businessman points out that whereas he has never agreed to surrender one of the securities to DTB on top of paying the Ugshs6.5Bn, the consent passed by Justice Wangutsi bears such conditionality. He accuses DTB lawyers of MMAKS and company advocates of fabricating such clause in order to grab his property.
Even if the talks had taken place, he argues how the parties never arrived at conclusive resolutions nor reduced them in black and white and later passed onto court for the trial judge to pass a final consent that would be binding on both parties.
Much as he is on record as having attended court on the day the judge passed the consent decree, Nekuusa flatly denies it. He claims how he was nowhere near Kampala let alone the precincts of court. “I was out of the city…..at my home in Kabojja,” Nekuusa swears in a written statement to court.
All the same, Nekuusa’s lawyer attended court in his capacity as his legal representative and received the ruling for that matter. While this fact is acknowledged by Nekuusa who goes ahead and concede receiving a phone call from his lawyer asking him to attend the ruling, Nekuusa says the summon was on short notice of 15 minutes. “There is no way I could have made it to Kampala within only 15 minutes,” he contends before adding that it is procedurally wrong for a judge to call a litigant over a phone.
Is Nekuusa finding scapegoats for his failure to return the money he took from DTB? Is he witch-hunting Justice Wangutsi because he did his work of implementing what he (Nekuusa) agreed with DTB? Well Justice Richard Wejuli will provide answers to these and many questions after looking at both sides of the coin so to say. For now we can only wish that justice takes its course.
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