Prima facie means “on the face of it”. It is a cursory or initial judgement that is reasonable to make without having carried out a detailed examination. For eg, Ofwono Opondo is seen entering Karanga’s house in the middle of the day and a few minutes later is seen running away, covered in blood. Karanga is then discovered stabbed to death the next day. Now this is prima facie evidence that may lead to the conclusion that Opondo is the murderer of Karanga: The fact that he is seen entering the house, the fact that he spent a few minutes there, and the fact that he is seen covered in blood while running away.

But if you subject this evidence to more detailed examination or inquiry, you may well reach a totally different conclusion, for eg self-defence, or that Opondo intervened in a fight between Karanga and some other assailant, or that Opondo was trying to take the rap or cover up for his sister, Karanga’s wife, who had earlier phoned him and confessed she had stabbed her husband to death. There are so many other possibilities, including one that the man may have been dead already by the time Opondo stabbed him, so technically no offence of murder would have been committed.

I think some people are attempting to argue that there was a “prima facie” case against Lukwago ; there was some evidence produced to show that Lukwago did not convene meetings or sign off minutes, but the crucial issues here are 1- Whether the evidence presented against Lukwago was sufficient to establish a prima facie case of incompetence, or abuse of office; and 2, Whether Lukwago sufficiently rebutted the prima facie evidence on a balance of probabilities. Certainly, reading from the judgement, it is clear that the judge made an error because the prosecutor in the case did not adduce evidence that would support all of the elements of the offences with which Mr Lukwago is charged.

On the contrary, I think in rebuttal, Mr Lukwago did adduce several instances of deliberate obstruction by KCCA officials, making it difficult or impossible for him to perform his duties. There were doubts raised about Lukwago’s competence and fiduciary responsibilities or lack thereof, but not sufficient, on a balance of probabilities, to make a definitive and affirmative verdict of guilt.

George Okello

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