NMR’s Dr Tanga Odoi, faces jail over contempt of court

  • by Harriet Kafeero
  • June 16, 2017

Margaret Etuusa has not been working at Makerere University for the last three months and despite her case pending court decision she has been blocked from office and still gets half pay.

The deputy registrar was suspended on March 7, by the then Vice Chancellor Dr. Okello Ogwang, as the university management carries out investigations into her conduct.

However, she sought for legal redress and the civil court registrar Alex Mackay Ajiji directed that the institution temporarily re-instates her back to office, pending determination of her main case but the order fell on the deaf ear of the institution’s management.

The registrar noted that although handover of office takes time, there was a lot of pending work which was supposed to be completed by Etuusa and that it would be unfair if she is not granted an interim order.

“The applicant lists a liturgy of pending work and claims that she is being consulted over it, as demonstrated by telephone print outs submitted in court. I am not therefore surprised that in the handover report there is a lot of work pending,” he noted.

Ajiji also issued an order restraining the respondents from further attempts to force Etuusa to finalise the handover of office and MUK committee from taking disciplinary actions against her.

Now Etuusa through Kalenge, Ssemambo and Company Advocates is demanding for sh3b in compensation as inconveniences for being blocked from her office.

She wants the Institution to pay her the said money jointly with National Resistance Movement (NRM) Electoral Commission Chairperson Dr. Odoi-Tanga Odoi and the Institution’s academic registrar Alfred Masikye Namoah.

She has also asked court to commit Odoi and Namoah to civil prison for disobeying court orders.

“If you are dissatisfied with the court’s order, you either appeal or apply for review of the proceedings but you cannot ask court to administratively take over the matter,” a furious Rashid Ssemambo said.

According to Kabaasa, the interpretation of the court order by Etuusa’s lawyers is flawed and conveniently communicated to circumvent the meaning of the law and processes in relation to the said case.

“The officer in question is on a lawful suspension and her case is before the appointment’s board. Therefore, appeal by lawyers to see their client resume work immediately as per the court order is in error and wrongfully addressed,” he stated in a letter dated May 23, 2017.

The letter was addressed to MUK vice chancellor, Prof. John Ddumba Ssentamu. In a letter dated May 23, 2017 addressed to Kalenge, Ssemambo and Company Advocates, Ddumba stated that he was advised not to take any action against Etuusa before the appointment board clears her.

Also in a letter dated May 22, 2017 to Stephen Musota, the head-civil division, Muk lawyers said “We are of the respectful view that the deputy registrar does not have the legal authority to order the reinstatement of the applicant back in office.

They further sought for his (Musota) administrative intervention in the matter, which according to Ssemambo is abuse of court process.

“You cannot complain about an order and seek administrative action from court when their well-established legal procedures for aggrieved parties,” He noted.

On May 5, 2017, Etuusa filed an application for judicial review challenging the process leading to her suspension. She dragged the institution and Dr. Ogwang to court through her lawyer.

Etuusa, who joined MUK in 1992 contends that if her plea is not granted, her employment will be terminated thereby affecting her career, which she has developed for the past 24 years.

Etuusa says MUK unlawfully suspended her from the University service without following the due process of the law, adding that she was never given the right to be heard.

Court documents indicate that on February 28, 2017 the University Secretary, Charles Barugahare wrote to the Academic registrar requesting to find out whether the company which was hired to offer services of handling phones during the recent graduation was approved and who in particular committed the University in offering the alleged services.

According to the university management, Etuusa went against regulations and allegedly authorised a company that defrauded parents and students of money during graduation.