Friday January 20 2012

Oil case: Court throws out House

The petitioner, Mr Saverino Twinobusingye (L), in court last year.

The petitioner, Mr Saverino Twinobusingye (L), in court last year. PHOTO BY FAISWAL KASIRYE 

By Ephraim Kasozi

Attempts by Parliament to become party to the constitutional petition that seeks to quash parliamentary resolutions and investigations demanding that Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi steps aside over oil sector bribes allegations have failed.

The Constitutional Court yesterday dismissed an application by the Parliamentary Commission seeking to be joined as a party to the petition by a Kampala lawyer, Mr Saverino Twinobusingye.

“The desire of the Parliamentary Commission is constitutionally unsustainable. The application is not allowed,” held a panel of five justices led by Deputy Chief Justice Alice Mpagi Behigeine.

Other justices are; Stella Arach Amoko, Steven Kavuma, Augustin Nshimye and Remmy Kasule. The court upheld earlier decisions on the role of the Attorney General as per Articles 119 and 250 of the Constitution.

In the ruling, read by the Registrar, Mr Erias Kisawuzi, the court further stayed a parliamentary probe into corruption allegations in the country’s nascent oil sector. Mr Kisawuzi said the petition hearing was fixed for January 25.

Mr Twinobusingye dragged the AG, Mr Peter Nyombi, to court on October 25 last year seeking to block Parliament’s investigations of bribery claims in the oil sector.

Mr Mbabazi and two other senior Cabinet colleagues, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek, stand accused of pocketing millions of dollars in kickbacks from oil exploring companies in allegations laid down by Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga which set off a stormy debate in the House and led to the raft of resolutions passed on October 11.

In the petition, Mr Twinobusingye described Parliament’s resolutions as impugned and argued that the lawmakers acted impulsively to indict the trio on allegations based on “forged documents” whose veracity MPs “deliberately declined to test”.

However, Parliament’s Assistant Director of Legal Services Sitinah Cherotich had argued that Mr Nyombi altered the views of Parliament in connection with the petition.

She said the AG’s answer to the petition is contrary to the instructions given to him by the Speaker in filing the defence.