Odoki’s re-appointment as CJ upheld rule of law, government says
Posted Thursday, October 31 2013 at 10:32
Kampala- The government has defended the controversial re-appointment of Benjamin Odoki as Chief Justice from retirement as being lawful stating that there was no gross abuse of law.
The defence is contained in the written response by the Attorney General, Mr Peter Nyombi, which he filed before the Constitutional Court on August 2.
Mr Nyombi was responding to the constitutional petition filed by Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga this year, who is challenging Mr Odoki’s re-appointment as being unconstitutional.
Mr Karuhanga claims that Mr Odoki does not qualify for re-appointment of the Judiciary’s top job as he has already clocked the mandatory retirement age of 70.
“The process of re-appointment of retired Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki was done in the accordance with the law,” Mr Nyombi states in his defence adding: “The President acted within his powers to recommend the re-appointment...”
“There will be no gross abuse of the rule of law, good governance and constitutionalism by appointing retired Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki as Chief Justice.”
Mr Nyombi further states that in Justice Odoki’s re-appointment, there is no constitutional provision that prohibits the re-appointment of a justice of the courts of judicature even though he/she has attained retirement age spelt out by the constitution.
Mr Nyombi also argues that President Museveni considered the advice of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and gave reasons why he recommended the retired Chief Justice Odoki.
“I know that the President did not abuse the rule of law, good governance and constitutionalism by recommending the re-appointment of the retired Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki as a Chief Justice as evidenced in the opinion and letter dated 17 July 2013,” Mr Nyombi states.
Mr Odoki’s name is now before Parliament awaiting approval since it’s a constitutional requirement.
He is currently working as one of the Supreme Court justices.
Recently, MPs declined to approve him on grounds that there is a court case challenging the same.
In a related development, Constitutional Court has set November 11, to do a pre-trial hearing of the matter. It will be before justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire before it is forwarded to a full panel of five justices.
Mr Odoki clocked the retirement age of 70 on March 23 this year before serving out the three months extension that ended on June 23.
He had served in the judiciary for 35 years with the last 12 as Chief Justice.
However, President Museveni in a July 9 letter addressed to Justice James Ogoola of the Judicial Service Commission, directed that Mr Odoki be given a two-year contract in order to “maximise the services of our human resource”.
The President also directed that other three retired Supreme Court justices; John Wilson Tsekooko, Christine Kitumba and Gildino Okello be recalled to the Bench.
But since then, Mr Odoki’s re-appointment has been met with resistance from several players including; Law Society, opposition politicians.