Kampala- There were scenes of celebration at the High Court and later in the streets of Kampala yesterday after a judge ruled that Mr Erias Lukwago is still the Lord Mayor.
In his ruling, Justice Yasin Nyanzi said an interim court injunction issued on Monday by acting registrar of the court, Mr Fred Waninda, still stands.
Justice Nyanzi said the interim injunction would be in place until Mr Lukwago’s main application seeking a judicial review of the Kampala Capital City Authority Tribunal report is determined.
The tribunal headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire had among others, found Mr Lukwago guilty of abuse of office, incompetence and misconduct. The tribunal was constituted by Kampala Minister Frank Tumwebaze after 17 councillors petitioned him.
On the basis of the tribunal report, Mr Tumwebaze on Monday called a city authority council meeting where 29 councillors voted to impeach Mr Lukwago. Three voted in the mayor’s favour.
However, minutes before the KCCA meeting could start, Mr Lukwago’s lawyers obtained an injunction issued by Mr Waninda, restraining Mr Tumwebaze and KCCA from proceeding. The order asked KCCA to wait for the ruling on the case challenging the tribunal report.
Efforts to serve Mr Tumwebaze with the order turned chaotic as police denied Mr Lukwago’s lawyers entry into KCCA premises. The police under the command of the Kampala South regional commander, Mr James Ruhweza, beat up one of the lawyers, Mr Abdullah Kiwanuka, before bundling him onto a pick-up truck. Mr Allan Ssewanyana, a councillor, had to be bundled out of the meeting room by plain-clothed security operatives after he tried to serve a copy of the injunction to Mr Tumwebaze in vain.
The government also contested the authenticity of the interim injunction, labelling it a forgery since it lacked a seal.
But Justice Nyanzi yesterday said upheld the injunction and said he was convinced that Mr Lukwago would suffer irreparable damage that would not be compensated in monetary terms if the interim injunction was not issued.
The judge also explained that the position of the lord mayor is not commercial but elective one before directing the Attorney General, one of the respondents, to bear all Lukwago’s legal bills incurred in pursuing the case.
“Mr Abdu Katuntu argued in his submissions that Mr Lukwago is an elective mayor, which position is not a commercial one. I accordingly, find it difficult to equate his suffering into monetary terms if the interim order is not granted…,” ruled the judge
According to Mr Peter Walubiri, one of Mr Lukwago’s lawyers, yesterday’s ruling means the Monday impeachment of the lord mayor is null and void. Minister Tumwebaze expressed dissatisfaction with the ruling and said he would seek guidance from the Attorney General.
When news spread around court that Mr Lukwago would after all stay in office, his supporters erupted into wild jubilation. Business and the Nakasero-based court came to a temporary standstill as ululation, song and dance took centre-stage.
Mr Lukwago, who had spent the past days hospitalised following his long detention by the police last week, was present in court. His supporters swarmed him and joined a procession that escorted him to his home. The police were followed the procession closely but did not interfere with the procession.
There was also show of opposition political solidarity as Forum for Democratic Change president Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, Conservative Party president John Ken Lukyamuzi (Rubaga South) and a host of politicians made presence at the court.
The Electoral Commission, which had already kick-started plans to conduct a by-election, yesterday said they would first seek guidance from their legal department before announcing the next course of action.
The KCCA Executive Director, Ms Jennifer Musisi, had this week notified the Electoral Commission about the existence of the mayoral vacancy.