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Namutumba police boss Nankunda fined Shs 40m over arresting court servers

FILE Stella Nankunda abused her position as CID officer to arrest the court process servers

FILE Stella Nankunda abused her position as CID officer to arrest the court process servers

Iganga Chief Magistrate's court has ordered Namutumba central police station criminal investigations department (CID) officer, Stella Nankunda to pay two court process servers Shs 40 million as compensation for unlawful arrest and subsequent detention.

The court process servers are Michael Kaluusi and Richard Mwesigwa who work in the Iganga High court circuit. According to the judgement issued by the Iganga chief magistrate Daniel Kiboko Epobu, Nankunda must also issue a public apology to the court officials within 30 days effective May 15, 2024, when the judgement was given. 

Epobu further issued a permanent injunction restraining Nankunda from violating Kaluusi and Mwesigwa's right to liberty and the right to practice their profession. After finding that Nankunda is liable for the violation of the said human rights, Kiboko also ordered her to pay a 10 per cent interest of the said compensation per annum and also costs incurred by the process servers to defend themselves.

The court decision follows a successful petition filed before court in March 2024 by the court process servers through their lawyer Steven Kalali. Kaluusi and Mwesigwa told the magistrate that on December 14, 2023, they proceeded to effect service of court documents to a one Sulaina Logose who is a defendant in a land case number 46 of 2023.

However, while in the process of giving her the documents, they were assaulted by Logose which prompted them to proceed to Namutumba police station where Nankunda is the CID officer and they reported a case of assault which was registered under reference number SF 59/14/12/2023.

Despite being victims of crime, Nankunda instead without justification allegedly ordered the confinement/deprivation of their right to liberty. Kaluusi and Mwesigwa argued that they were unjustifiably deprived of their liberty from 2 pm to 7 pm when they were detained at police under Nankunda's directives with no room for escape. 

Kaluusi said that they pleaded with the police officer to release them but she allegedly became harsh, arrogant and rude to them by threatening them that she is the CID officer with the powers to decide how long one can be confined "because we are the people in power".

The evidence before the court shows that Kaluusi tried to leave the room they had been confined in so as to go and pick up their motorcycle, reg no. UG 110J which they had used for transport but Nankunda directed that they don't move anywhere else they risked being shot at.

"That the respondent even told us that the criminal file that had been entered by her subordinates at Namutumba police station would not see light as even though we had recorded statements at police in regard to the said file, she being the in charge knew how best she was to handle it," adds the affidavit.

Kalali told court that Nankunda kept on talking on phone to the suspect, Logose whom his clients had opened a case against, and it was later on in the night when they continued crying out their innocence to other police officers who were around that they were set free.

He further argued that the acts and orders of Nankunda in restricting or depriving his clients freedom of movement yet they were victims of crime who had gone to seek justice amounts to abuse of the Uganda Police Force (UPF) uniform and she she should individually be held liable for violating their rights. He asked court to issue several orders and declarations against her. 

In response, Nankunda tried to defend herself but the evidence which was contained in her affidavit was struck out by court on April 11, 2024, on grounds that she didn't appear before the commissioner of oaths. This left her without any defense whatsoever on court record. Court ruled that Nankunda's act of confining/detaining Kaluusi and Mwesigwa yet they were practising their profession was uncalled for.

"The applicants did identify themselves to the respondent as court process servers but all this fell on deaf ears of the respondent/Nankunda," said Kiboko.

Kiboko added that even if Nankunda had doubts over the identity of the applicants, she would have verified the same through the various electronic means from the entity that the applicants stated were their employees other than confining them.

"The respondent went ahead to detain them which denied them the chance to go and execute their work. The applicants thus proved that their right to practice their profession and to carry on their lawful occupation was violated by the respondent through her actions," adds the judgement.

The court has also ruled that Nankunda detained the court process servers for five hours without a justification which was an infringement on their right to liberty.

"I take note of the fact that the respondent acted out within gross impunity towards the applicants, this kind of excesses by people in authority towards citizens to whom they are accountable should be condemned at all costs," said Kiboko.

Although Kalali had also asked the court to dismiss Nankunda from the police force because of what he described as unprofessional conduct, the court found that the Shs 40 million she is supposed to pay as compensation to the process servers is enough punishment for her to reform.

Kalali welcomed the court decision, saying that the acts of Nankunda were in contravention of several constitutional provisions. In 2019, President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2019 which among others holds men and women in uniform personally liable for their actions which infringe the constitutional rights of the citizens, as opposed to shielding those with unconstitutional behaviours under the Attorney General to defend them.

Museveni okayed this law to reduce gross impunity and torture acts by security officers which were happening in the country and also to reduce the damages that were being paid by the government to defend individual illegal acts not sanctioned by the state/government.

Comments

+2 #1 WADADA rogers 2024-05-18 13:25
Wow, a good lesson never to be forgotten by these stupid Police officers who behave as if they own this country.

Now she has to pay that money which is equivalent to her salary for 5years. Even an appeal will not help
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+1 #2 Lakwena 2024-05-20 18:00
In other words, when the hunter becomes the hunted, there is nowhere to run to. Stupid!

In her bravado, Afande, Stella Nankunda has lost her Khaki Skirt!
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