Tuesday February 21 2012

Mbabazi, ministers shouldn't step aside - Court

By Ephraim Kasozi

The Constitutional Court has granted a petition in which a city lawyer sought to nullify Parliament’s resolutions demanding that Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, steps aside following bribery allegations in oil sector.

Constitutional Court justices led by the Deputy Chief Justice Alice Mpagi Behigeine said in a ruling this Tuesday that the MPs demand for Mr Mbabazi, and two other ministers named to step aside ahead of a parliamentary inquiry was unconstitutional. The court, however, upheld that the parliamentary ad hoc committee investigations into the bribery allegations, can go ahead.

Other justices on the panel included Stella Arach Amoko, Steven Kavuma, Augustin Nshimye and Remmy Kasule.

Mr Severino Twinobusingye describing himself as a voter from Kanungu District dragged the AG to Court on October 25, last year, seeking to block Parliament’s investigations of bribery claims in the oil sector.
His lawyer, Mr John Mary Mugisha told court that Parliament contravened the Constitution in making the resolutions during the oil debate when they violated the right to a fair hearing as provided for by the Constitution.

“The right to fair hearing involves the right to present evidence, cross examining witnesses but in this case Parliament did not. The prime minister and the named ministers were not granted adequate time and opportunity to challenge the forged documents,” said Mr Mugisha, adding that Parliament was biased and members had a pre-determined mind to condemn the ministers.

According to the petition, Mr Twinobusingye described Parliament’s resolutions as impugned and argued that the lawmakers acted impulsively to indict Mr Mbabazi and two other Ministers, Sam Kutesa and Hillary Onek on allegations based on “forged documents” whose veracity MPs “deliberately declined to test.”

Mr Mbabazi and two other senior cabinet colleagues, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek, stand accused of bribery 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.

ekasozi@ug.nationmedia.com

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