City tycoon Mohan Musisi Kiwanuka, 69, is all smiles, after High Court ruled that he is mentally sound, a sober and intelligent man, capable of running and managing his estate and businesses.
The ruling by Justice Musa Ssekaana, of the High Court, rubbished allegations by the plaintiff also his son, Jordan Sebuliba Kiwanuka, 41, who had petitioned court to declare the father mentally infirmed so that the son takes over and manages the estate.
“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”, Jordan Ssebuliba Kiwanuka had prayed to court in his application.
While the court ruling, under Miscellaneous Cause 249 of 2019, means the sun has set on Ssebuliba’s intentions, that are widely seen as bizarre by a mature man against his aging parent, it could also expose the plaintiff to serious repercussions.
One could say Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka, a lawyer by training, did not take matters lightly and was armed to the teeth. He was represented by the reputable Buwule Mayiga and Company Advocates, a firm in which Buganda Katikkiro Owek. Charles Peter Mayiga is partner, Fides Legal Advocates, and Anthony Wabwire.
The landmark ruling provides a precedent on how not to approach matters relating to take-over of property belonging to a third party, using unproven mental impairment as either a reason or excuse. The ruling should also send a strong signal on how children should approach their parents with respect to inheritance or lawful acquisition of property belonging to the parents.
” There is no evidence adduced to even put court to an inquiry, the answer is no, evidence of unsoundness of mind,” Stated Justice Musa Ssekaana in his written judgement.
Justice Ssekaana qualified his decision by citing the case of Justice Mubiru in the case of Aseru Joyce Ajju vs Anjoyo Agnes HCMA 001 of 2016, when the latter quoted the Indian case of Moohammad Yaqub v Nazir Ahmad & Others.
“When a person is alleged to be insane…..there ought to be a careful and thorough preliminary enquiry and the Judge ought to satisfy that there is a real ground for an inquisition. It is impossible to lay down any hard and fast rule, but in the first place it is essential that the person making the application should support it ordinarily by an affidavit or by tendering himself for examination to the Judge on oath in support of the allegations in his application.”
Justice Ssekaana added: “The Learned Judge would naturally want to know what relationship existed, what previous association had existed between the applicant and the alleged insane person, how long the illness was supposed to have lasted…”
The observations were certainly not an academic reflection. Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka appeared before Justice Ssekaana for an interview in the presence of Mr. Patrick Alunga, Counsel to Jordan Ssebuliba Kiwanuka as well as legal representatives of Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka. Following the 45 minutes’ interview, Court reached the conclusion that Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka had no noticeable mental disabilities.
” …the court did not find any noticeable mental problem with the respondent. He spoke calmly especially about the dispute between himself and the applicant and at times he would make some little jokes.”
At that point, Jordan Ssebuliba Kiwanuka should have been reminded of the Kiganda proverb: “bwoba ogoba musajja munno, olekangamu agakuzza” (when chasing a fellow man, always be mindful not to exhaust all your energy, for you could need the energy in reserve if you are chased in turn!!).
Is Ssebuliba a Kiwanuka?
Now that court has thrown out allegations by Jordan Ssebuliba Kiwanuka that his father was mentally unsound, it could be time to consider a jaw-dropping statement made by Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka against his son.
Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka recently stated in a media interview, that Jordan Ssebuliba Kiwanuka isn’t his biological son. He said Ssebuliba was fathered by another man, and that the matter was well known.
But in spite of it all, Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka still took care of him as his own, gave him a good education and named him company secretary. Ssebuliba moved on to Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka’s properties to house his office and business premises in the upscale Kampala suburbs of Kololo and Nakasero. Ssebuliba’s tenancy, though irregular, remained unchallenged until recently, when the need to pay-off debts, and to raise capital for new projects, through selling off of some properties, became overwhelming. Ssebuliba has protested against eviction and the matter is before court.
But that was outside of court.
Ssebuliba the property Grabber
Back to the High Court. Even after dismissal of the allegations of mental infirmity, Court wasn’t done with Ssebuliba by any stretch of imagination.
This would be critical when one reads Justice Ssekaana’s observation: “It is my settled opinion that the respondent is still in charge of his mental faculties and his only problem with the applicant according to him is that he wants to take over or grab his property which he has worked hard to earn over the years.”
Could Ssebuliba be a thief with the motive of taking his father’s property using ulterior motives?
Ms Sophia Nakandi a Practising Advocate with Fides Legal Advocates, the law firm that battled Ssebuliba in court, said in her Affidavit to court that the court suit arose from a land dispute. In the dispute at issue, Ssebuliba, in a separate court suit, wants to prevent Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka from evicting him from the land comprised on LRV 434 Folio 7 Plot 10A and 10B Akii Bua Road and FRV 210 Folio 20 Plot 21-29 Golf Course Road Kololo, which land belongs to Visa Investments Ltd. Visa Investments Limited is owned by Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka.
In the court suit, HCCS No. 535 of 2019; Jordan Ssebuliba Kiwanuka & Lowerhill Management Limited vs Visa Investments Limited and Mohan Musisi Kiwanuka, Ssebuliba has made a claim of Ush 1 billion from his father. The father has in turn made a counter claim against Ssebuliba that could run into tens of billions of shillings, for staying on his property for over 10 years without remitting any proceeds to the asset owner.
Ssebuliba’s hand in a Shs13 billion tax blow to Mohan!!
Court documents show that by the time Ssebuliba dragged his father to court, a battle was already raging, in which the son stood accused of destroying his father’s business empire through crass incompetence.
If you don’t have a good analytical mind, you wouldn’t grasp the complex operations of Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka. Mr. Kiwanuka operates through a sophisticated chain of contractors, outsourced service providers, consultants and associates.
In a tear-rending account to court, Mr. Kenneth Tendo Mdoe an Independent Finance and Management Expert, said Ssebuliba run his father’s business into a Ush 13 billion tax obligation to the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), that led to the suspension of operations of Oscar Industries for most of 2019.
Mdoe, who works with KTM Consulting Limited contracted by UNIGROUP Limited to provide a Finance Director to M/s Oscar Industries Limited and other associated companies, said Ssebuliba failed to and does not appreciate, observe the fact and implications and status of independent contractors. UNIGROUP Limited manages M/s Oscar Industries Ltd and other associated industries.
He stated that the above state of affairs led Oscar Industries Limited into loss of a colossal sum of money. “The applicant made unfounded statements misrepresenting the relationship between Jobco Limited, the Labourers and Oscar Industries Limited to the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA),” said Mdoe.
How Ssebuliba was sacked
It’s around this time that Ssebuliba was relieved of his duties as Company Secretary, a decision Ssebuliba didn’t accept, and instead linked it to irrational decisions by his father on account of an unsound mind.
Mdoe dismissed Ssebuliba’s allegations and came to the aid of Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka, stating: “I know he continues to consciously run his businesses and take decisions with reasons he articulates well, demonstrating that he still has capacity to make decisions and manage his affairs.
In addition, I spoke to the applicant (ssebuliba) and asked him why he was taking such steps that would antagonize the business and family of the respondent (Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka), and his answer was – “we have to do anything we can, otherwise we shall get nothing”.
Mdoe concludes: “This application is brought in bad faith, only aimed at helping the applicant (Ssebuliba) get assets he seeks in HCCS No. 535 of 2019.”
Ssebuliba was part of property sale process!
The affidavit of Ssebuliba’s brother, Kyamukungubya Sabri Kiwanuka hit Ssebuliba hard. Kyamukungubya, who attested to the expertise of his father Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka and his mother Mrs. Maria Kiwanuka, that they drew upon when they took a decision to liquidate some of the dormant and non-income generating assets so as to pay debts. The sales were also to help complete the acquisition of the Marble mine and factory at Matheniko in Moroto, which are now in commercial production.
Kyamukungubya said Ssebuliba duly signed necessary documents for Multitask Services Limited, the Company that acquired the marble mine and factory assets in Moroto, before he was removed as an authorised signatory to any of the Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka’s 33 companies.
Did Ssebuliba observe that his father was mentally infirmed only after being sacked as company secretary, but all along worked with a mad man?
I don’t know you! Doctor disowns Ssebuliba
Dr. Farouk Maniyar, the UK-based physician who undertook a 2017 examination of Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka, as part of his routine medical check, and whose alleged diagnosis of mental infirmity was brought to court as evidence, quickly rubbished Ssebuliba’s assertions.
Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka’s counsel told court: “The doctor says I have never undertaken any such medical procedure for purposes of testing the incapacity of Kiwanuka to manage his business or affairs, I have never done it.”
Considering magnitude of the court victory, and the affidavits supporting the respondent Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka, by Mr. Mdoe, Mr. Kyamukungubya, Ms Sophia Nakandi and Dr. Farouk Maniyar, Jordan Ssebuliba Kiwanuka should be feeling haunted by the statement 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”.
Can Ssebuliba be considered a proper manager? Was his motive sympathy for Mohan Kiwanuka and family? Did he leave court with his reputation intact? How is Mohan Kiwanuka going to look at his children thenceforth?
Ssebuliba could have left court empty-handed, but he dealt Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka an unintended blow as he walked home to a possible backlash from an infuriated family. Most of the Kiwanukas are alarmed at a court suit that has lifted the veil of privacy from Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka, hitherto a laid-back businessman with a huge fortune, but who, throughout his life, chose to live a simple life.
Mr. Kiwanuka should be looking into the spotlight with a squint, pained from the discomforting glare of the media and a gluttonous public, with an insatiable appetite for salacious scandal, and cheap leaks, mainly on the ubiquitous social media sphere, centred around the lives of the famous, the rich, the powerful and those trying to fit in-between.