Crime & Investigation

TVO SAGA: Lawyer Muwema Loses Case Against Facebook

Ugandan lawyer Fred Muwema has failed to secure a High Court order directing Facebook Ireland to take down alleged defamatory postings about him from its service under a controversial name, order Tom Voltaire Okwalinga.

Okwalinga early this year posted on his/her Facebook profile that Muwema had received a bribe from government to frustrate his client Amama Mbabazi’s case in which he was challenging the election of President Museveni in this past election.

Okwalinga also claimed that Muwema broke into his own offices before claiming he was a victim of burglary

Muwema would later write to Facebook proprietor Mark Zuckerberg to reign in on the pseudo site user Okwalinga, visit this site for posting messages that were “grossly defamatory and offensive” against his (Muwema’s) person.

Muwema said his safety, reputation and credit were greatly endangered by Okwalinga’s posts.

“Since the …content is authored by a person of doubtful identity, I would like his or her identity to be discovered to support legal action which I intend to take against him or her,” he asked.

“To this end I request for internet protocol address of the user by the 29th March 2016 to be able to determine the user’s location, email, telephone address and other user identifier information.”

Facebook did not comply, compelling Muwema to take the social media site to the courts of law in Ireland where the company’s headquarters are situated.


The Irish Times reports now reports that Facebook denied having duty to remove the material particularly in circumstances where much of it is available across the internet by simply Googling “Muwema” and “bribe”.

It had agreed to provide the lawyers with any details it holds in relation to the identities and location of the persons who operate the TVO Facebook page.

In his judgment Mr Justice Donald Binchy said he was dismissing the application for various orders sought by Mr Muwema.

The orders, including one compelling Facebook to take down the page, sought can only be granted in circumstances where it is clear the defendant had no defence that is likely to succeed.

Claim of innocence

However the Judge said Facebook has a defence to the claim of innocent publication as provided for in section 27 of the 2009 Defamation Act.

The Judge said the “action should also be refused because it would serve no useful purpose.”

During the hearing evidence was given to the court that the same and other damaging allegations about Mr Muwema had appeared on other internet sites and publications.

Lawyers for Mr Muwema had argued the injunction would not affect Facebook’s freedom of expression, and had been brought to preserve his reputation.

He needed a court order because despite the bringing of legal proceedings, the blogger had posted more defamatory material.

Material was on other parts of the internet because Mr Muwema had to give a interviews to a Ugandan media denying the allegations.

He had no choice but to bring the proceedings.


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