Female Muslims on High Court bench, who are they?

Justice Faridah S. Bukirwa and Justice Celia Nagawa. PHOTOS | COURTESY | PPU

What you need to know:

  • Justice Bukirwa (Jinja High Court) and Justice Nagawa (Family Division) are the first female Muslim judges in the High Court, writes Anthony Wesaka.

In May this year President Museveni, acting on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, appointed 16 judges of the High Court in acting capacity for two years.

Among the justices were Faridah Shamilah Bukirwa and Celia Nagawa, the first female Muslim judges. 

The Principal Judge, Dr Flavian Zeija, earlier this month deployed Justice Bukirwa to Jinja High Court and Justice Nagawa to the Family Division.

While swearing in the new judges last week, Justice Minister Norbert Mao commended President Museveni for ensuring that there was religious, regional and gender balance in his appointments.

Muslim leaders have for long castigated the government for ignoring their faithful while making appointments in different institutions.

However, the government has maintained that jobs are offered to those who meet the qualifications.

In June, the late Kayunga Resident District Commissioner, Mr Nsereko Mutumba, urged Muslims to support the National Resistance Movement party if they want to get juicy jobs.

The late Mutumba reasoned that before the NRM government appoints anyone in a key position, they do a background check on the person. 

He added that if such an individual is found to have been talking ill of the government, chances are high that they won’t be considered.

The law

Regulation 19 of the Judicial Service Commission states that the Commission may advise the appointing authority on the nature of appointment such as substantive, acting, contract, and temporary or probation.

Justice Faridah S. Bukirwa  Prior to her appointment, she was an advocate of the High Court, working in the legal department of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) since March 2010.

While at the NCHE, Justice Bukirwa’s work involved civil litigation of the institution in the Supreme Court and all Courts of Judicature. She also participated in the drafting of the proposed amendments to the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act (2006), subsidiary legislation on regulations that guide the process of equating qualifications (2015), Fees Regulations (2019), and various policies at the NCHE. She also advised institutions of higher education on corporate governance matters. Justice Bukirwa also served on the Rule of Law Committee of the Uganda Law Society and dealt with corporate governance matters at the Council level.


In September 2018, she graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Monitoring and Evaluation from Uganda Technology and Management University.    

Between 2008 and 2009, she obtained a Master in Laws (LLM International Commercial Law) from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. Between 2005 and 2007, she obtained a diploma from the Institute for Management of Information Systems (IMIS).  

She is also a graduate of Bachelor of Laws from Makerere University between 1998 and 2002. She also has ICSA from UK.

Justice Celia Nagawa

Before the new assignment, Justice Nagawa was an enrolled advocate and commissioner for oaths and notary public with 17 years’ experience in legal practice. 


Justice Nagawa holds a Master of Laws Degree from the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, which she obtained in 2005. She did a Post Graduate Diploma in legal practice from Law Development Centre (2000/2001) and a Bachelor of Laws from Makerere University [2000]. 

Justice Nagawa also holds a certificate from the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance. 

Ms Nagawa has served in both public and private sectors at national and international level. For example, she served as an advocate at Nagawa Associated Advocates and Makerere University Business School as the deputy director of legal services.

Ms Nagawa has also done work for Ssekaana Associated Advocates and Consultants, SPRING-USAID project, InterMedia New York, and TearFund UK in Uganda. 

Ms Nagawa has kept keen interest in litigation, corporate governance, legal compliance, management, human resources, board advisory, organisation leadership, arbitration, and capacity building.  

Ms Nagawa is also a professional associate in Insurance at the Australia and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance and an active member of the Uganda Law Society. 


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