"There is no enforceable employment contract existing between the plaintiff and defendant, the breach of which can be tried by this court, I find that the suit is incompetent and it is hereby struck out".
Similarly, in the claim of defamation, the judge said Fr Adiga did not state any of the words he considers to be defamatory. "The plaintiff does not allege persons or at least the category of persons to whom the publication complained of was made nor that the words uttered were false and that they were published maliciously" the judge states in the ruling.
Jimmy Madira of Madira and Company Advocates, who represented the Rt. Rev. Sabino Ocan Odoki, Bishop Arua Diocese had raised preliminary objections, arguing that, the suit was incompetent, because there was no contract of employment between the Priest and Bishop. The Lawyer stressed that Priesthood is a spiritual calling in which the Priest voluntarily applies to the service without expectation of benefits. According to the Lawyer, the relationship of the Bishop and the Priest is governed by Canon Law and not employment Contract Laws of Uganda, adding that Courts in Uganda have no jurisdiction over the Canon Law. Justice Mubiru agreed with the submission of Madira and Company Advocates stating that, the preliminary objection is sustained. "I find the suit is incompetent and it is hereby struck out and dismissed." The Lawyers defending the Bishop argued that, the case was premature because Fr.Adiga had already petitioned the Holy See to reverse the suspension, and therefore since he had already taken that step, he could not seek again another remedy before Rome responds.
In the suit, Fr.NakariAdiga alleged that Bishop Sabino had unfairly suspended him from performing priestly duties without any fair hearing. Fr Adiga had also complained that he was being denied privileges offered to Priests. Fr Adiga also accused the Bishop of defamation.
In his decision to dismiss the case, High Court Judge, Justice Mubiru Stephen ruled that, the Church is an Independent Institution, not to be unnecessarily interfered with by the State. Justice Mubiru also said that the case was a disciplinary matter which can be resolved internally by the Institutions of the Church. The judge said he did not find any employment relationship and that, it is under Canon Law. He also said that it would be a shock if a priest was an employee of the Church. "The dispute between the parties being steeped in matters of Church Doctrine and Administration, may have to be resolved internally within the Church.
Counsel for the Bishop, Jimmy Madira said, the Court had given chance for the parties to sort the matter out of Court. Court had appointed Bishop Sanctus Linus Wanok of Nebbi Catholic Diocese as mediator, but Fr. Adiga and his Lawyers rejected the venue. The first meeting at Arua Court flopped because a gang of hooligans were reportedly mobilized to shout and embarrass Bishop Sabino. Police dispersed the gang, while the second meeting at the Bishops House in Nebbifailed because Fr. Adiga and his Lawyers declined to travel to Nebbi, claiming the venue was not neutral. Thereafter the parties failed to agree on other neutralvenues.
Counsel Madira said that the Courtgave enough time and did not hurry to dismiss the case because it would have led to other consequences. On the lesson learnt, Madira said matters of Church should not be brought out in the public and instead be resolved within the Church system. He added that in such cases, there is no winner, time is wasted and the Church is the loser. He advised Priests to stick to their promises and avoid brining out Church matters into Civil Domain because it does not benefit them.
Fr. Cyril NakariAdiga was ordained to priesthood on 19th December, 1987. Until his suspension on 11 August, 2014, he had served in various capacities, including as Curate of Adumi Parish, Chaplain of NTC Muni and Curate at Christ the King-Arua Town Parish. Fr.Adiga refused to take up his new posting as Chaplain of Micu Secondary School. Currently he is the proprietor of Nile University, affiliated to Uganda Martyrs University. The private University operates in a Government-Owned Facility. END
(By Ernest AlfodiAcidri: Special Media Advisor to the Bishop of Arua Diocese. Mob: 0779 81 74 26 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org)