Lawyer Andrew Obam of LOI Advocates has petitioned Mukono High Court Presiding Judge to revisit a case in which a deceased lawyer and non-existent firm represented clients.
In the case in question, LOI Advocates, acting on behalf of businessman Juma Makoba Makoba, have protested Mukono High Court decision to award a claimant named Issa Asiimwe millions.
Obam and his colleagues at the Kampala-based law firm argue that a garnishee order issued by Mukono High Court Deputy Registrar Harriet Ssali Nalukwago was obtained through fraud and is intended to defraud their client and Bank of Africa, the garnishee bank.
According to documents The Pearl Times has seen, on May 18, 2018, Simon Peter Mugabe took up an arbitration case involving Makoba and Asiimwe.
Makoba had committed to pay Asiimwe Shs24,964,700 (about Shs25m) for work he had .
All Makoba wanted was for Asiimwe procure tree seedlings for Riverbank and other fragile landscapes protection in five catchment areas of ECLAF II Project, including Post Planting care Lot V; Mabira, River Nile Project Jinja and Mukono, Mubuku Irrigation Scheme Catchment and surrounding areas of Kasese, Ntoroko and Kabarole.
Asiimwe also agreed to plant trees in the above mentioned areas as well as supply seedlings to project beneficiaries.
During the arbitration proceedings, Asiimwe presented Tony Byabashaija, the Head Contractor of ECLAF II Project, as his key witness.
Byabashaija told ‘Arbitrator Mugabe’ that Asiimwe had completed his work and done it well. But Makoba had failed to pay as agreed.
Mugabe informed court that while Makoba had attended the arbitration proceedings, he had neither presented any witness nor sought to cross-examine Asiime and Byabashaija, his key witness.
Makoba, continued Mugabe, had admitted that he had failed to meet his obligation.
But he blamed the delayed clearance of Asiimwe’s money on the fact that the head contractor was yet to pay him.
Contrary to Mugabe’s claims, LOI Advocates say that Makoba and the garnishee Bank had no representation during the arbitration proceedings.
According to Mugabe, M/S Zagyenda and Company Advocates represented Asiimwe during the arbitration proceedings while M/S Ndozireho and Company Advocates acted on behalf of Makoba.
But LOI Advocates, Makoba’s lawyers, argue that Mugabe, who claimed to have led arbitration proceedings, is “non-existent” as both advocate and arbitrator.
His name is missing on the Roll of Advocates. He also does not appear on the list of accredited arbitrators.
Obam and LOI Advocates also point out that the two law firms Mugabe claims represented Asiimwe and Makoba are either non-existent or their operations in question.
In the case of M/S Zagyenda and Company Advocates, lead partner Joseph Zagyenda’s phone numbers are currently unavailable.
The office that the firm used to operate in on Plot 4 of Wilson Road is no longer existent.
For M/S Ndozireho and Company Advocates, Chris Ndozireho who used to run the firm died about three years ago and his phone number is in his wife’s possession.
BANK OF AFRICA SMELLS A RAT
On October 26, 2019, after the end of arbitration proceeding that Mugabe reportedly chaired Makoba and Asiimwe agreed that the former pays the latter his money in one month.
But Makoba was unable to keep his promise.
This prompted Asiimwe to seek a garnishee order compelling Bank of Africa, Mukono Branch, to attach Makoba’s deposits.
However, on August 26, 2020, Bank of Africa wrote to Mukono High Court expressing concerns over the integrity of the garnishee order absolute.
The financial institution told the deputy registrar that the order she had issue never quoted an Execution Miscellaneous Application Number.
Nalukwago’s order to the bank was also issued against an account which was dormant.
The bank had also failed to reach the inactive account’s owner.
Also, the court order had not specified which bank the money was to be wired to.
Bank of Africa also raised questions on which law firm or advocate was representing the creditor (Asiimwe).
In her response to the bank, Nalukwago admitted there were errors in the garnishee order.
But now, Makoba’s lawyers says there is more to the court directive than meets the eye.
They want the presiding judge to set the order aside and look at the file afresh.
“My Lord, this was obtained under fraud, owing to the fact that the entire proceedings as well as the documents filed were choreographed to fleece the respondent [Makoba] and the garnishee herein Bank of Africa,” wrote LOI Advocates to Mukono High Court Presiding Judge.
In their letter dated September 23, 2020, Makoba’s lawyers added that “whereas the law on how to proceed with setting aside garnishee orders/Absolute is clear, we are currently dealing with a fraudulent scheme and we cannot be privy to it. We implore you to revisit the file for administrative action.”