Friday January 10 2014

Odoki case goes to Supreme Court

Prof George Kanyeihamba, Mr Nicholas Opio, Mr Joseph Ssewungu and

L-R: Prof George Kanyeihamba, Mr Nicholas Opio, Mr Joseph Ssewungu and Mr Gerald Karuhanga at the High Court yesterday. Photo by Joseph Kiggundu 


Kampala- Lawyers in the petition challenging the controversial reappointment of retired Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki yesterday vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court against a decision of two Constitutional Court justices who refused to disqualify themselves from a panel hearing his case.

The justices, who declined to step down from the panel of five justices over alleged bias, include; Acting Chief Justice Steven Kavuma and Augustine Nshimye.

Lawyers; Prof George Kanyeihamba, Mr Nicholas Opiyo and Mr Emmanuel Orono, who represented Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga, the petitioner in the case, claimed they would not get justice from the duo justices, fearing they would exhibit bias against them.

Prof Kanyeihamba, who is Mr Karuhanga’s lead lawyer, cited the previous court case involving the expelled NRM rebel MPs. In the case against the expelled MPs, Prof Kanyeihamba accused the justices Kavuma and Nshimye of having exhibited bias and that the same bias was reechoed by their fellow justice Remmy Kasule in his judgment.

But while rejecting their plea to disqualify themselves from the panel, the duo justices said: “There is no way the MPs’ case is related to this very case…”

During the heated legal court proceedings that took yesterday’s entire morning, acting Chief Justice Kavuma’s integrity came into question as it emerged that he was erroneously appointed to the same office by retired Chief Justice Odoki on June 24 last year.

According to Prof Kanyeihamba, Justice Kavuma’s appointment by Mr Odoki as Acting Chief Justice in an internal Memo, was erroneously done since Mr Odoki had a day before, retired from the judiciary’s top office and did not have powers to appoint him as he was just an ordinary citizen.

Prof Kanyeihamaba explained that since it’s the same Odoki who appointed Kavuma as the Acting Chief Justice, it wouldn’t be wise for him to be the one to head the panel that is challenging Odoki’s re-appointment.

Heated session
“We are in court primarily to challenge the reappointment of Odoki as Chief Justice and the very person he entrusted with the functions of the Chief Justice is on the panel to decide his fate. I find that injudicious and he should step down….” he argued.

Other justices on the panel are Eldad Mwangusya, Geoffrey Kiryabwire and Prof Lillian Tibatemwa.

This means the Constitutional Court will have to wait a little longer for the decision of the Supreme Court on whether the two justices should step down from the panel or not.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether it was right for Justice Odoki who had retired, to appoint Mr Kavuma.
Mr Karuhanga, who was in court, told journalists that he would seek justice from the Supreme Court.