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Deported MTN CEO drags AG to court over illegal deportation

MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer, Belgian Wim Vanhelleputte who was deported in February seeks justice in court. (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – Deported MTN Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Wim Joris Vanhelleputte has dragged the Attorney General to court, challenging his deportation as being irrational and illegal.

In his lawsuit filed before the High Court civil division, Mr. Vanhellepute is seeking orders to quash his deportation following an order issued by the Internal Affairs minister Gen.  Jeje Odongo on February 14, 2019.

Mr. Vanhelleputte says that he was in charge of the overall operations and overseeing MTN affairs in Uganda and ensuring proper management and functioning of the company.

“I have been a regular visitor to Uganda since 1993 until when I got married and also settled in Uganda where I and the family have been living at Lubowa, Makindye Ssabagabo, Wakiso District until my deportation from Uganda to Belgium,” Mr. Vanhelleputte says in his affidavit.

Mr. Vanhelleputte says that he has been CEO of MTN and other telecommunication companies since October 2001 in various countries such as Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Gabon, among others. He says over these years while working abroad, he has been visiting his family in Uganda monthly.

According to Mr. Vanhellepute, the deportation order labelled him as an undesirous and prohibited immigrant yet he has been a law-abiding citizen and has no trace of a  criminal record for the 25 years he has lived in Uganda.

According to court documents seen by PML Daily, Mr. Vanhelleputte says that on January 29, 2019, he was summoned by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) at Kireka and accused of communicating to the deported MTN staff, to which he was also asked to record a statement.

Mr. Vanhelleputte says he was then ordered to report back at SIU on February 14, 2019, but despite explanations to police that he needed to communicate to the deported staff because they had not yet officially handed over the office,   he was simply detained, driven to Entebbe Airport, and handed over to aviation security. He says at 11. 59 pm, he was deported through an SN Brussels Flight.

Mr. Vanhellepute claims he was neither given an opportunity to explain himself to minister Odongo before signing the Order that declared him unwanted in Uganda nor communicate to his Ugandan wife Barbra Adoso and their two children.

He contends further that the court should intervene and recall his unlawful deportation because he had a valid work permit and a running Visa which was due to expire in May this year.

Through Birungi and Company Advocates Mr. Vanhellepute is also demanding for damages from the government for violating his rights to a fair hearing and just treatment.

The court is yet to allocate his case file to a judge for the hearing.

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