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The battle inside Speaker Among’s marriage

The battle inside Speaker Among’s marriage

Geoffrey Rwakabale who receded Anita Among’s marriage , claims that unknown individuals have trailed him over the last days,he believes the exercise of his powers has endangered his life. 

A town clerk is the secretary and chief administrative officer of a town or city.

Mr Rwakabale first brought the matter to the attention of President Museveni and the Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) director Tom Magambo, who advised him to make a formal complaint to the IGP.

Maj Magambo on Thursday referred this publication for a comment to police spokesperson Fred Enanga.

Mr Enanga said there is a snowball’s chance in hell the public relations office would know about the matter if it was addressed to the IGP.

The complaint is also copied to CID and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kampala.

“I feel my life is in jeopardy and I request for more security to secure my personal life,” the complant

The dramatic turn of events, according to the complaint, started last month on the afternoon of August 12, with a visit to Mr Rwakabale’s office by Uganda’s deputy ambassador to Khartoum, Dickson Ogwang. Mr Rwakabale was not in office.

Ambassador Ogwang reportedly left behind a note and his mobile cell number. The complaint details that he also indicated that he was “an agent” of the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among “and that he had an issue” that required urgent attention.

Upon return to office the following week on August 16, a Tuesday, Mr Rwakabale was informed by his administrative assistant of Ambassador Ogwang’s message.

“I called the telephone number to understand the issue he needed me to handle. While talking to Ambassador Ogwang over the phone, I noticed a voice in the background very similar to that of the Rt Hon Anita Annet Among,” the complaint reads in part.

The telephone conversation culminated into an appointment for Ambassador Ogwang at Makindye Division Urban Council headquarters.

“Ambassador Ogwang was ushered into the office, along with three other men. He quickly introduced himself; that he previously served at Uganda’s embassy in Washington DC, but is currently deployed at the embassy in Juba (sic),” the complaint details.

After the pleasantries, Mr Rwakabale was informed that: “Rt Hon Among Anita Annet and Hon Magogo Moses Hassim had held a customary marriage recently at Mestil Hotel, which is within the jurisdiction of Makindye Division Council.”

Ambassador Ogwang, however, allegedly did not provide the required evidence to support the claim.

Flawed marriage?

The Laws of Uganda provide for five types of marriages—Civil, Moslem, Church, Customary and Hindu marriages.

According to the Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB), Civil marriages are monogamous in nature and celebrated in the office of the Registrar General for residents of Kampala and in the offices of chief administrative officers (CAOs) of other districts, while customary marriages are potentially polygamous and are celebrated in accordance with the customs of an African community.

A customary marriage can be converted into a civil marriage by way of a ceremony conducted before a Registrar of Marriages. 

Persons married under customary law should have registered their marriage with the sub-county chief or town clerk in their area within six months.

The Customary Marriage (Registration) Act details procedures for registering a customary marriage, including payment of prescribed fees upon, which, as soon as may be, but in any event not later than six months after the date of completion of the ceremonies of marriage, the couple attend at the office of the registrar of the marriage district in which the customary marriage took place, with at least two witnesses to the marriage ceremonies, to register details of the marriage.

The parties to the marriage and the witnesses, who may be the parents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts of either of the parties, chiefs, clan heads or other persons of standing, shall sign their names in the customary marriage register book.

Under duress?

By time of visiting, Mr Rwakabale claims Ambassador Ogwang was “already in possession of a fully filled and signed certificate of customary marriage only awaiting the signature” of the town clerk.

“I went ahead, as the town clerk, to guide Ambassador Ogwang on the legal requirements and procedures that have to be fulfilled before registration of a civil marriage in Uganda is concluded,” Mr Rwakabale said, adding, “I indeed availed him a summary of the list of legal procedures and requirements.”

Ambassador Ogwang, when contacted by this publication, said: “You said in your preamble that the police are investigating the matter, then let’s wait for their report.”

Attempts to get a comment from Ms Among were futile. Her press secretary Joseph Sabiiti referred us to Parliament’s director for communications and public affairs, Mr Chris Obore.

Mr Obore acknowledged that Ms Among and Mr Magogo had held a traditional marriage ceremony, but in Bukedea District.

“Whoever is disturbed by the Rt Hon Speaker’s marriage should care more about their marriage or the lack of it,” Mr Obore defended, adding that: “The Rt Hon Speaker Among is married to her husband Eng Moses Magogo and that is all that matters; she was accepted by his family and his family accepted her. Their families blessed the marriage so the two can be husband and wife.”

‘Untouchables’

Mr Rwakabale said as a civically competent civil servant, “it dawned on me that I had encountered the untouchables and people who have no respect whatsoever for the laws governing this country. I was intimidated and coerced to the core and under duress and immense fear, I signed off the certificate of the customary marriage for Hon Magogo Moses Hassim and Rt Hon Among Anita Annet.”

Documents supposed to be the marriage certificate issued to the couple started circulating on social media on Wednesday morning. The Speaker’s press team whittled them down as “fake.”

In a separate interview with Sunday Monitor, Mr Rwakabale maintained that the documents circulating are authentic.

Mr Magogo, who also doubles as president of the football governing body—Federation of Uganda Football Association (Fufa), declined to comment on the matter.

The Customary Marriage (Registration) Act provides that the Town Clerk and other authorities that register marriages shall, thereafter, write to the Registrar of Marriages at the district forwarding the files.

On August 16, Mr Rwakabale wrote to the Registrar of Marriages, Kampala District, receding Ms Among and Mr Magogo’s marriage.

“I have discovered glaring omissions and errors occasioned to me as a consequence of duress while processing this matter,” his correspondence reads in part. “The purpose of this communication, therefore, is to recede and withdraw the registration and to inform you that I have formally deleted the couple from the Division Customary Marriage Register.”

Town Clerk moved

Mr Rwakabale has since been withdrawn as Makindye Division Town Clerk and redeployed in the office of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

KCCA spokesperson Simon Kasyate did not respond to our inquiry of whether the redeployment is a reprimand or for his own protection.

On Wednesday, Mr Rwakabale showed this publication the passenger side mirror of his car, which was reportedly hit by two unidentified people who were riding on a boda boda during rush hour traffic around Bukoto, a Kampala suburb.

“My life is in grave danger. I have raised this matter with the IGP and director of CID to beef up my security,” he added.

Upon obtaining the divisional marriage certificate, the newlywed [registered] couples are supposed to take copies of the certificates to the district or URSB for validation.

Mr Rwakabale said it is probable his receding letter to the Registrar of Marriages was delivered before the couple could have their marriage validated. The letters circulating on social media elicited fracas.

Mr Obore maintained that the “so-called certificates” are fakes.

“The couple held a ceremony in Bukedea so what business did they have in Makindye,” he wondered.

Asked about the dates of the said traditional ceremony, he also posed a question: “Don’t you live in Uganda” to have missed it?

In regard to Mr Rwakabale’s death threat claims, Mr Obore said: “No civil servant should be intimidated in the course of doing their duty, but at the same time no civil servant should indulge in political games and then cry wolf. That is all propaganda.”

Weighing in on the matter on Thursday night, URSB carefully avoided the issue of flouting procedure and indicated that neither the Town Clerk nor the Registrar of Marriages have powers to invalidate a marriage.

“Non-registration of a marriage does not invalidate a marriage. However, registration of a marriage gives evidential value to that marriage,” URSB’s statement read.

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