The process of taking the oath

Wednesday May 11 2016

President Yoweri Museveni swears-in at Kololo

President Yoweri Museveni swears-in at Kololo on May 12, 2006. Mr Museveni has been president for a better half of the 54 years of independence. File photo 

By ANTHONY WESAKA

According to the Oaths Act-Uganda, the President is supposed to take two oaths. The first oath is the ‘oath of President’ and the second oath is the ‘oath of allegiance’.

Oath of President/Vice President.
Here is how the ‘oath of President’ goes: ‘I,…. , swear in the name of the Almighty God/solemnly affirm that I shall faithfully exercise the functions of the President/Vice President of Uganda and shall uphold, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and observe the laws of Uganda and that I shall promote the welfare of the people of Uganda. (So help me God.)

Oath of Allegiance.
The oath of allegiance states: ‘I….., swear in the name of the Almighty God/solemnly affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Republic of Uganda and that I will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. (So help me God.)
How the Presidential oath is administered
The Oaths Act-Uganda provides that the Presidential oath must be administered by the Chief Justice. The current Chief Justice is Mr Bart Katureebe who will be administering his first ever presidential oath, having taken office a year ago. He will be assisted by Chief Registrar of Courts Mr Paul Gadenya Wolimbwa.

Explaining the process of administering the Presidential oath, Justice Henry Peter Adonyo, current head of Judicial Studies Institute, who assisted retired Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki in administering the oath to President Museveni in 2011, says the first step is for the chairman of the Electoral Commission to hand over a signed certificate confirming that the person to take oath was the actual winner of the presidential elections.

Justice Adonyo adds that the next step is the actual oath taking. He says that at this stage, the Chief Registrar asks the President-elect which religion/faith they profess for purposes of giving them the right Holy book that they will in-turn raise it up high and read out the two oaths.

“It’s at this moment that the Chief Registrar opens up the two written oaths (oath of President and allegiance) for the President-elect to read through..” says Justice Adonyo.

Advertisement

He adds: “ the President then signs on to the oath followed by the Chief Justice who is the presiding officer.”
The last step in the Presidential oath taking according to Justice Adonyo is that the President is handed the instruments of power by the Chief Justice with the assistance of the Chief Registrar.

He named the instruments of power as: original constitution, national flag, court of arms, presidential flag and the key to the State House.

What legal experts say on importance of taking presidential oath and the consequences of going against it.
According to lawyer Joseph Luzige, the Presidential oath serves two purposes. The first one being the moral grounds whereby the President commits his office to God.

“This is so because the President-elect uses a Bible or Quran or any other Holy book to take oath.” says Mr Luzige, adding: “ the oath-taking binds the President to uphold the Constitution of Uganda and even defend its boundaries. In other words, you are binding yourself to follow the constitution..”

Mr Luzige warns that once the President fails to uphold the Constitution, then he commits treason.
Weighing in on the same, retired Supreme Court Judge Prof George Kanyeihamba says that when the President takes the Presidential oath, it means that he has understood what he has done and that once he goes against the same, he will be guilty of perjury which he said is a criminal offence.

Justice Kanyeihamba adds that once the President goes against the oath, he breaches the Constitution and can be impeached by Parliament.

Another city lawyer who preferred to speak freely but on condition of anonymity, says that once the President takes oath, ideally he/she is not supposed to violate the Constitution and that in other countries, this amount to treason.
“These people have always gone against the Presidential oath, they defy court orders and the swearing-in is now a normal thing. The oath does not have any meaning to me because they abuse them ever..”

Judicial officers during Museveni oaths
1986: Peter Allen (Chief Justice)
1996: Samuel Wako Wambuzi (Chief Justice) and was assisted by Yorokamu Bamwine as Chief Registrar who is currently the Principal Judge

2001: Benjamin Odoki (Chief Justice) and was assisted by Stephen Musota who was then the Chief Registrar but he is currently a High Court Judge.

2006: Benjamin Odoki (Chief Justice) he was assisted by Lawrence Gidudu who was then the Chief Registrar but he is now a High Court Judge.

2011: Benjamin Odoki (Chief Justice) and he assisted by Henry Peter Adonyo who was then the Chief Registrar but he is currently a High Court judge on special assignment as the Executive Director of the Judicial Studies Institute.

The judicial officers who will be presiding over this swearing-in

Chief Justice Bart Katureebe
Born on June 20, 1950, in Bushenyi, the 65-year old holds a Makerere University Bachelors of Laws (1974) and a post-graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from LDC.
He has been a State attorney, private practicing lawyer, Deputy Minister for Regional Corporation, Deputy Minister for Industry and Technology, Health Minister and member of the NRC. He was also member of the Constituent Assembly (Bunyaruguru County).
He has also been Justice Minister, Supreme Court judge andmember of the Judicial Service Commission. This is going to be his first time to preside over a Presidential swearing-in. He presided over the election petition filed by Amama Mbabazi.

Chief Registrar Paul Gadenya Wolimbwa
Born in 1969, he holds a Bachelor of Laws from Makerere University and a Postgraduate Diploma in legal practice. He also has a Masters in Laws from University of Pretoria, South Africa, and other certificates locally and abroad.

He also worked as an advocate. He started his judicial career as a Grade One Magistrate in 1995. He was later elevated to the position of Chief Magistrate and worked in Mbale.

He also worked as the personal assistant to former Chief Justices Samuel Wako Wambuzi and Benjamin Odoki.
In early 2000s, he was again elevated to the position of Assistant Registrar of Courts of Judicature and it is during that time that he was asked to help in the setting up of the current Anti-Corruption Court alongside retired judge John Bosco Katutsi and Paul Mugamba in 2008. He has also worked with the International Criminal Court.

He recently got a presidential award on Labour Day celebrations for the hard work that he exhibited while at Justice Law and Order Sector.

Advertisement