Sunday May 18 2014

Odoki saga: Judges accused


Lawyers from Kanyeihamba and Co advocates have accused the Constitutional Court judges of frustrating the appeal challenging their ruling where they refused to disqualify themselves from hearing the petition against the reappointment of Justice Benjamin Odoki as Chief Justice.

Early this year, justices Steven Kavuma and Augustine Nshimye in their ruling, refused to disqualify themselves from a panel hearing the Odoki reappointment case after Prof George Kanyeihamba accused them of bias.
Prof Kanyeihamba, the lead lawyer and retired justice of the Supreme Court, said his appeal at the Supreme Court has stalled because the Constitutional Court judges have failed or refused to sign their ruling, which he is challenging.
He says without a signed copy of the ruling, he cannot file an appeal against it.

Prof Kanyeihamba represents Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga, who is challenging President Museveni’s decision to reappoint retired Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki.

Prof Kanyeihamba wants the court ruling to pursue his appeal in the Supreme Court. He wants the Supreme Court to order Justices Kavuma and Nshimye off the panel hearing the Odoki re-appointment case.

The implication
Speaking to this newspaper on Thursday, lawyer Emmanuel Orono from Kanyeihamba and Co advocates, stated that in law, once a court document is not signed, it’s not valid and cannot be used to support their appeal in the Supreme Court.
The rift has been reflected in the various correspondences between the Registrar of the Constitutional Court, Mr Deo Nizeyimana and Kanyeihamba and Co advocates, which this newspaper has seen.

“We have received a copy of the certified proceedings and ruling from the court. However, the said proceedings and rulings are not signed by the lord justices who heard the petition,” reads in part a communication from Kanyeihamba’s chambers to the Registrar dated April 14.

But in a corresponding reply on April 22, Mr Nizeyimana stated: “Our view is that the proceedings are certified by this court, there is no need for signed copies. However, I am sending you a certified copy of the handwritten ruling of their lordships.”

On July 9, 2013 Mr Museveni reappointed Mr Odoki as Chief Justice on a two-year contract. But the decision was challenged in court as unconstitutional.