Monday April 21 2014

Attorney General has a case to answer before Parliament

By Ken Lukyamuzi

To be appointed Attorney General in a country like Uganda which is heterogeneous in character, is a huge task. The people are simple but know what they want. They may be silent but attentive. They glare and watch. They may pardon wrong doers but will not forget wrong-doing.
The late Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa could have been the best Attorney General Uganda has ever had since independence. He was tactful and strategic. Even when he had to act at the command of satanic verses, he made sure he did so cunningly.

Binaisa’s court pleading in the famous ex-parte Matovu Constitutional petition on the 1966 Uganda crisis was based on satanic verses which he presupposed to be valid on the strength of a basic norm.

The Attorney General, Peter Nyombi has no basic norm and cannot cope with Hans Kelsen’s philosophical strides. He has no basic norm to pursue by ignoring court orders. He has confused Cabinet on the Erias Lukwago saga by creating a constitutional impasse in KCCA. He confused the Electoral Commission by advising it to organise a non-existent election (for office of lord mayor) in KCCA at the expense of the taxpayer. He is a cynic and an aggressor.
His legal advice is uncertain and is in conflict with Article 119 (3) of the Constitution.

The Attorney General knows the Constitution is supreme and shall have binding force on all organs of the State and himself. But he is not bothered about that because he does not fear to do wrong. Pursuant to the constitutional provision above, he has no excuse for not honouring a court order. It is sacrilegious for him to disrespect a court order.

He, therefore, has a case to answer before Parliament. His acts of disrespect of the Judiciary undermine the contents of Article 126 (1) of the Constitution which states that judicial power is derived from the people and shall be exercised by the courts established under this Constitution in the name of the people and in conformity with law and with the values, norms and aspirations of the people.

Nyombi’s recent lament over Justice Yasin Nyanzi’s acts makes things even worse. Under Article 128(2) and (3) of the Constitution, it is stated that, in the exercise of judicial power, no person or authority shall interfere with the courts or judicial officers in the exercise of their judicial functions. Similarly, all organs and agencies of the State shall accord to the courts such assistance as may be required to ensure the effectiveness of the courts.
The Attorney General’s defiant acts to both Justice Nyanzi and Lady Justice Mugambe court orders cannot end like that. His acts are unfortunate and not only offend the Constitution but equally undermine historic judicial decisions like the Constitution petition of Paul K. Ssemogerere, Olum and Others Vs the Attorney General in 2000. I was the mover of the no-quorum motion that Ssemogerere invoked to render the referendum amendment Act unconstitutional on the floor of Parliament.

The Ssemogerere petition is relevant to the Nyombi tragedy and in it the Supreme Court has held that the failure of government authorities to observe the contents of Articles 126(1) and 128(2) and (3) was an absurdity. The same court rendered the referendum amendment of 2000 a nullity and unconstitutional.

Mr Lukyamuzi is MP for Lubaga South and president general of the Conservative Party.