UGANDA: Age limit: petitioner cites bias by judge who has kids with Deputy Attorney Rukutana

Male Mabirizi
UGANDA, MBALE (@UG_EDGE) – One of the petitioners in the age limit case, Male Mabirizi, insists Justice Elizabeth Musoke, one of the judges on the panel of justices hearing age limit petitions at Mbale High Court, has a child with Deputy Attorney Mwesigwa Rukutana.

The other judges are; Remmy Kasule, Kenneth Kakuru, Cheborion Barishaki and Elizabeth Musoke.

Mabirizi wants Musoke removed from the panel claiming that she sired children with Rukutana and Hillary Onek, Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees.

But Rukutana described allegations as false, malicious, unfounded and defamatory.

In a March 29, 2018 letter to the Deputy Chief Justice Owiny Dollo, Rukutana said that while he was not bothered by what he called ‘wild’ allegations, he was sympathetic with Justice Musoke and the disposition of court.

“That letter came from me and I wrote it authoritatively and I still believe in its contents, judges must expect fire from the people and be open to know that in whatever they do, we are watching them,” Mabirizi insists.

He added: “It’s not immoral but it’s standing up on one’s ground because when a verdict is reached, it’s irreversible and we have to say everything before that happens.”

According to Mabirizi, judges must not merely be diamonds but refined diamond. They should expect fire from the public.

“Personally I am not a concealing person. I have my evidence of the relationship one of the judges had with the Attorney general. I stand by it.”

Mabirizi, a lawyer, studied at Makerere but is not practicing. “I refused to practice law got my reasons and opted for business.”

In this case, the petitioners are represented by lawyers; Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, Erias Lukwago, Yusufu Musembuli, James Jjabi, Moses Okalany, Luyimbazi Nalukoola, and Wanjiyu Badru.

The consolidated petitioners are Male Mabirizi, MP Gerald Karuhanga (IND., Ntungamo Municipality), Jonathan Odur (UPC, Erute South ), Allan Ssewanyana (DP, Makindye West), Mubarak Munyagwa (FDC, Kawempe South), Ibrahim Ssemujju (FDC, Kira Municipality) and Leader of the Opposition Winfred Kiiza. Other petitioners are Prosper Busingye and city lawyer, Abeine Buregyeya.

Vincent Mugabo, Judiciary spokesperson, says the first day was successful, the parties were very collaborative and the court was able to deliver instant rulings for pending cases.

“I think the case will move on smoothly. What the judiciary has done is to put up some TV screens around court for the people to be able to access the court proceedings because the constitutional court won’t be enough for all of us,” Mugabo pointed out.

He said every trial has cost implications but what is important is that the citizens of Uganda learn about the court proceeding and how they are running. “The court of appeal has been sitting in different parts of the country, the CJ has the authority to decide on where to sit and we thought it was wise for the constitutional court to start traversing the country for the people to learn about judicial ways.”

According to Deputy Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny Dollo, it will be unfortunate for anyone to try to politicize the process.

“We are not a political institution. This process is purely judicial and I will not hesitate to throw out anyone who tries to politicize this process,” he said.

He added: “This court has rules, if you have any issues with this court be firm and approach the matter with decorum. If you bring the courts of Judicature down, if you tarnish this court, you are fighting yourself and the consequence on this country is disastrous.”

He said its good to consult with senior lawyers on some of these issues so as to preserve the integrity of the Judiciary.

“Leave the administration of court to court and the administration of the Judiciary to the Judiciary.”

He went on: “Why should it become a big issue where we sit to hear a case? The constitution mandates the Chief Justice & deputy Chief Justice to do so. This court sitting in Mbale is going to render justice to the petition that has been brought before it without fear or favour.”

Godber Tumusabe, a lawyer, policy analyst and social entrepreneur, says it is no longer contested that the Parliament has been degenerating since the 6th Parliament.

“The epitomization of this degeneration was the age limit debate. Leaders should have a certain character not to go under a certain threshold. All the conduct in Parliament really diminishes the whole idea that these are honourable MPs.”

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