IN a dramatic turn of events, a Ugandan lawyer has sued the East African Community (EAC) Secretary General over a misused emblem belonging to the regional intergovernmental organisation of six Partner States.
The EAC Secretary General, Ambassador Libérat Mfumukeko had last week announced through a statement, his intention of dragging Mr Male Mabirizi to court for allegedly using the community emblem and photographs of East African Court of Justice (EACJ) judges among others, to raise funds for personal purposes.
EAC has since disassociated from Mr Mabirizi’s advert with its derogatory language and illegal use of its Emblem and photographs of the Judges.
The Community further demanded the litigant’s apology and an immediate withdrawal of the advert.
“The Community wishes to inform the public that Sections 7 and 8 of the Community Emblems Act, as amended expressly prohibit the unauthorized use of the Community Emblem. Section 7(1) thereof provides that “no person shall without the permission of the Council of Ministers notified in the Gazette, use or display the Community Emblem,” reads part of a statement released by the Arusha based EAC headquarters last week.
Section (8) of the said law creates an offence for abuse of the emblem punishable on conviction by a fine not exceeding US$3,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or both, such a fine and imprisonment.
It added: While the Community set up the EACJ as a neutral arbiter for disputes between parties, it condemns the abuse of its emblem, misuse of the photographs of the Judges and the derogatory language that Mr Male Mabirizi has used against a sitting Head of State.
However, in his petition, Mr Mabirizi contends that Mfumukeko's actions of issuing and signing the said statement were actuated by malice and resulted into a breach of the principles and fair hearing because he did not first ask him to find out whether he was the initiator of the advert soliciting for funds or and; whether he was doing it allegedly for his personal gain.
The litigant says the statement was done purposely to prejudice the outcome of his case challenging the removal of the age limit from the constitution that paved way for President Museveni to seek re-election in the 2021 elections.
Mr Mabirizi further contends that the said statement puts him at risk of being arrested, restriction of his liberty, forced disappearance, and mob justice among others by agencies of the partner state of Uganda and non-state actors including vigilantes.
In 2019, he launched a campaign soliciting for more than Ush 300ml to help him in transport, accommodation and drafting of legal documents in his age limit appeal case that is pending determination before Arusha.
He has since challenged the EACJ to order Mfumukeko to apologize to him and retract the said statement and pay him damages, for the disturbances and anguish caused to him and costs of the suit.