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Court seeks written submissions in deported MTN CEO case

Wim Vanhelleputte

Wim Vanhelleputte

The High court in Kampala has called for written submissions in a case challenging the deportation of Wim Vanhelleputte, the chief executive officer of MTN Uganda.  

The Belgian was deported on February 14, on the orders of the Internal Affairs minister, Gen Jeje Odongo making him the fourth employee of the company to be declared a prohibited immigrant under section 52 (g) of the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Act.  

The section among others stipulates that a person shall be declared a prohibited immigrant as a consequence of information received from reliable sources and confirmed by the minister or by the commissioner to be an undesirable immigrant.  

But Wim sought a judicial review of the process and asked the court to quash the minister’s orders. He argued that the process used by the minister to declare him undesirable was highhanded and arbitrary because he was never accorded a fair or just treatment before, during and after the order was made.  

He further explained that prior to his deportation, he had been summoned thrice on January 22, January 29 and on February 14, 2019, to appear before the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Kireka where he was interrogated on his connections with MTN staff who had been deported earlier.  

These included an Italian national Elsa Mussolini, the former general manager for mobile finance services, French national Olivier Prentout, who was the chief marketing officer at MTN-Uganda and Rwandan national Annie Bilenge Tabura, the general manager, sales and distribution at MTN-Uganda.  

In his response, Win acknowledged that they were still in contact because the three had not handed over offices at the time of their abrupt deportation, and needed to ensure continuity of company operations. It’s upon the acknowledgement of contact that he was asked to record a statement which was followed by a deportation order.  

Documents submitted to the court by his lawyers Birungi and Company Advocates indicated that Wim is married to a Ugandan national, Barbara Adoso, with whom they have lived since April 29, 2000. The couple has allegedly known each other since 1993. 

The documents show that even when he served in Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Gabon, among other countries, Wim would still come to visit his family in Uganda on a monthly basis.  

On Thursday, senior state attorney Wanyama Kodoli told court that the minister did not need any permission to deport a person from Uganda because the Immigration Act gives him powers to do so. Wanyama also advised that Wim should have appealed against the order, instead of seeking a judicial review.  

But presiding judge Henrietta Wolayo asked the two sides to make written submissions on the matter. Wim’s lawyers are expected to have their submissions ready by May 10, while the attorney general’s submission is expected on June 10. The judgment will then be issued on notice.

Comments

0 #1 kabayekka 2019-04-13 15:22
One understands that MTN and company worked hard during the 1980/90 to open up Uganda to the new communication technology.

This long serving government at that time was busy selling off Uganda Telecommunication to the highest African bidder because it was incapable of running it.

And where it sold this company everybody knows now what Libya, the company that bought it, is all about.
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0 #2 kabayekka 2019-04-13 15:33
Shame that despite all this effort and the the large amount of tax revenue this company is paying into the treasury of Uganda, the staff of this company are being humiliated and deported as African political spies against this dictatorial government of NRM.

Now that this government cannot run any industry in this country, how come it wants to appoint and direct staff of MTN?
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0 #3 kabayekka 2019-04-13 15:42
By the way, the government of Uganda cannot force MTN to sell its shares to all those rich Ugandan citizens.

It is up to these rich people to apply, to buy and own shares at their own accord! Supposing the citizens of Uganda buy shares in MTN and the next day they loose out, will this government compensate them?
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0 #4 Lakwena 2019-04-15 10:32
Quoting kabayekka:
By the way, the government of Uganda cannot force MTN to sell its shares to all those rich Ugandan citizens.

It is up to these rich people to apply, to buy and own shares at their own accord! Supposing the citizens of Uganda buy shares in MTN and the next day they loose out, will this government compensate them?


Mr. Kabayekka, this is a Shauriyako Republic under Mr. M7. The man is in our State House, fighting only for himself and family.

In other words, as long as he is a free loader in our State House: free house, free food, free transport, free healthcare, free airtime, etc., etc. Including MTN the country can go to hell.
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0 #5 WADADA roger 2019-04-15 23:55
I entirely agree with the learned state Attorney that the Minister has unlimited powers to deport any body for any lawful reason, i assert that being a threat to national security is such reason.

After all he was given a chance to be heard, atleast through a statement at police, having a family in Uganda is not good enough, he is not the one who got married, he married a lady from here, he is free to take her with him.

I also agree that judicial review is a remedy to cancel the ministers order would be to curtail the authority of the minster under the act and yet the same cant be repealed or amened because of him, she should have appealed the harsh decision if at all.

For now, he has to speak from out and even if he wins, the Government will appeal and once the case stays on the shelf of Court for more than eight years, he will give up.
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