By Our Correspondent
That city lawyer Jordan Sebuliba Kiwanuka didn’t stand a-snowball’s-chance-in-hell to win against his father, Mr. Mohan Musisi Kiwanuka, the only tycoon in Uganda associated with ‘buntu bulamu’, had long been predicted by many legal pundits and lay persons alike.
Therefore, on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 26, 2019, Justice Godfrey Namundi, of the High Court (Family Division) could simply have done the inevitable. Court ruled that Jordan Sebuliba has no right whatsoever in claiming that he had an equitable interest in property belonging to his father’s company, Visa Investments Limited, and must forthwith, quit occupancy of the same.
How did the protagonists get to this?
In July 2019, Jordan Sebuliba dragged his father and Visa Investments Limited to the High Court. This followed an eviction notice issued to Sebuliba from Visa Investments Limited. Visa Investments Limited is owned by Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka.
Sebuliba laid ten prayers before court in his plaint, including: A declaratory order that the plaintiffs (Jordan Ssebuliba, Lower Hill Entertainment Limited, his mother Ms. Beatrice Luyiga Kavuma) have an equitable interest on the suit properties, located at Plot 21-29 Golf Course Road, Kololo in Kampala, Plot…Akii Bua Road, Nakasero, Kampala, Plot 1758 Busiro, Bwerenga, Wakiso District and Plot 22A Kawalya Kaggwa, Kololo, Kampala. They prayed that the same properties be declared matrimonial property within the meaning of the land act.
Sebuliba and “the others” wanted court to lift the veil of incorporation of Visa Investments Limited, ostensibly to prove that Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka was behind the company actions, decisions and positions. Lifting the veil of incorporation is a herculean task as many have tried and failed because to do so, without reasonable excuse, would be anathema to the ‘sacred’ rights provided for under company law.
The plaintiffs wanted more. They wanted court to slap a permanent injunction against the Defendants from evicting the plaintiffs, and to be awarded costs of the suit.
In the alternative, the plaintiffs wanted court to issue an order for payment of special damages for the value of improvements to the properties they calculated at Ush 1 billion; payment of Interest on the special damages from the date of December 2010 till payment in full; payment of general damages for causing anguish and disorganization from business continuity; Payment of the general damages from anticipated breach of contractual arrangements between the plaintiffs and third parties; and, any further and better relief the court deems appropriate.
Unfortunately, court didn’t grant them any of their prayers.
Justice Namundi could have used abrasive language, including describing Jordan Sebuliba as a novice at property grabbing, who needs further training; a failed fraudster in child skin; and the like. Although it wouldn’t be illegal to do so, few judges often part ways with decorum.
And the issue of legality vs morality pervades the whole tragicomedy that Jordan Sebuliba appears to have visited on himself by taking on his father, a lawyer and businessman, widely renowned for his humble demeanor, kindness and forthrightness.
As a lawyer, Jordan Sebuliba knows the implications of his actions, underscored by the common adage: “just because its legal doesn’t mean it’s right.”
Laura Ives Craft, from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law, United States, famously wrote: “It is legal to cheat on your spouse in 30 states and is rarely prosecuted in the others. That does not make it right. Adultery is not a crime in Texas but that sure does not make it right. Lying is not a crime unless done under oath or perhaps to an FBI agent (Flynn case). … We don’t have laws that make things legal, just illegal. So 99% of what we do is legal but that does not make it all right.”
Did Sebuliba take a leap of faith with the expectation that, somehow, he would win in court? Yet, like he must be fully aware, to expect a “lucky judgement” from a court of competent jurisdiction, would be akin to expecting a man to get pregnant!
This, losing an earlier court case to his father. He dragged Mr. Kiwanuka to High Court under miscellaneous application 249 of 2019. He prayed that court orders Mr. Kiwanuka to undergo forceful mental examination on the alleged grounds that he was mentally unfit to run his business
Jordan Sebuliba unequivocally stated in his application: “That it is just and equitable that the court adjudges the respondent [Mohan Kiwanuka] as a person of unsound mind so that his estate can be placed under proper management and that I be appointed manager for the purpose.”
In his ruling, Justice Musa Ssekaana of the High Court siting at Kampala stated: “The applicant decided to bring this application for mental examination after the respondent [Mr. Mohan Kuwanuka] had removed him from the position of Company Secretary and also appointed Mrs Maria Kiwanuka as a new Director. This means or would imply that if the applicant had not been removed him from the said position in May 2019 by the respondent then the respondent was still of sound mind and everything remained normal and fine with him.”
With the second loss in as many attempts, some are citing the supernatural world to be at work.
By taking on his father, causing unfathomable embarrassment to the hitherto private family, could Sebuliba have been acting under the spell of a curse, cast on him by his father, a random member of the public, or family circle, miffed at the impudence of a child shamelessly embarrassing his father?