Kampala- The Attorney General, Mr Peter Nyombi, has kick-started the appeal process against Monday’s majority judgment that rejected the re-appointment of Benjamin Odoki as Chief Justice.
The appeal process started on Tuesday with Mr Nyombi’s office lodging a notice of intention to appeal in the registry of the Constitutional Court.
Four out of five justices of the Constitutional Court ruled that President Museveni had erred by reappointing Odoki as Chief Justice despite attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70.
The ruling followed an appeal by Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga, who faulted the President for ignoring the advice of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) that Supreme Court Justice Bart Katureebe be given the job.
In the lead judgment written by Prof Lillian Tibatemwa, the justices held that there is no single provision in the Constitution that provides for the re-appointment of a retired chief justice.
The justices also faulted President Museveni for re-appointing Justice Odoki in July last year without seeking the advice of the JSC as mandated by the Constitution.
The State’s appeal notice was filed by Mr Kadoli Wanyama, a senior state attorney from Attorney General’s chambers. Mr Wanyama represented the State in the earlier case that it lost against Mr Karuhanga.
“Take notice that the Attorney General being dissatisfied with the majority decision of Hon Remmy Kasule, Eldad Mwangusya, Solomy Balungi Bbosa and Prof Lillian Tibatemwa; given at Kampala on August 4, 2014, intends to appeal to the Supreme Court against the whole majority decision,” reads the notice to appeal.
The notice, however, did not spell out what grounds the State would front for its appeal. Whereas Mr Nyombi’s phone was switched off when we called him for details, Mr Wanyama said it was not his duty to speak to the press.
The State, however, could closely use dissenting Justice Rubby Aweri-Opio’s argument that retired Justice Odoki was eligible for the re-appointment as chief justice under Article 253 of the Constitution. The article okays the re-appointment of civil servants upon retirement and according to Justice Aweri-Opio, Justice Odoki was not an exception.
Justice Aweri-Opio added that he would have queried the re-appointment of Justice Odoki if it was done under suspicious circumstances like promoting selfish interests of the President.
Mr Emmanuel Orono, one of Mr Karuhanga’s lawyers, yesterday said the filing of the notice to appeal should not interfere with the search for a chief justice if it was on.
“The search can only be halted if the Attorney General applies to the Supreme Court and convinces it to stay the process to enable them hear and disposed the appeal,” said Mr Orono.
It also means that by appealing, the Attorney General, who was faulted in the Monday ruling for not properly advising the President, is still pursuing his move to have Justice Odoki back at the helm of the Judiciary that he led for 12 years before reaching retirement age.
Yesterday, Mr Karuhanga, who petitioned the Constitutional Court, accused the Attorney General of “wasting taxpayers’ money”.
“The AG obviously failed to understand the Constitutional Court judgment and if he appeals, it is evidence that he does not understand the Constitution. We shall meet him at the Supreme Court but I strongly advise him to stop wasting taxpayers’ money,” said Mr Karuhanga.