By Andante Okanya
High Court in Kampala Tuesday summoned FDC president Dr Kizza Besigye and ordered him to file his defence in response to a defamation suit filed against him by UPDF officer Lt. Col. Atwooki Ndahura.
In the summons dated October 15, 2012, issued by registrar Festo Nsenga, Besigye has been ordered to file his defence within 15 days, lest judgment is passed in his absence.
"Should you fail to file a defence, the plaintiff shall proceed in the suit and judgment entered in your absence,” the order states.
The suit stems from a July 2009 interview published by the Observer newspaper that linked the officer to a murder.
Besigye is jointly sued with the newspaper publisher Observer Media Limited plus its editor. The East Africa Standby Force chief of planning claims his reputation has been tarnished.
“The said publication has caused the plaintiff a lot of embarrassment, right from his family and at work, and they have injured his reputation as a parent as well as a senior public servant and a professional member of the armed forces both locally and internationally,” the plaint states.
In the contentious interview titled ‘Court will disband EC, says Besigye’ in the newspaper publication dated July 27-29, 2009, Besigye claimed Ndahura was responsible for the earlier murder of one Johnson Baronda in Rukungiri, during the 2001 general elections.
Through Kafeero and Company Advocates, Ndahura is seeking an apology, damages, and costs of the suit, plus an order permanently restraining the defendants from publishing any material deemed defamatory to him.
Ndahura claims his professional associates consider him risky and dangerous to deal with. He states that the defendants knew the statements were untrue and defamatory.
The officer asserts that the Besigye’s statements implied that he is a murderer, criminal, partisan, unethical, and not fit to serve in the prestigious UPDF.
“The plaintiff shall contend that the defendants actions were careless, callous, wanton, and were made without regard to plaintiff’s character,” the plaint notes.
Ndahura states that his lawyers sent a mandatory notice of intention to sue, with a demand for an apology but was snubbed. He is now demanding an apology with the same prominence given to the contentious interview, and his own dictated wording of the apology.