Principal Judge Flavian Zeija has directed the head of the High Court, Civil Division, Justice Musa Ssekaana, to cause the hearing of 21 out of the 23 cases that lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi has filed before the court.
Justice Zeija also rejected an earlier proposal by the same court to have all of Mr Mabirizi’s cases heard in a special session and not by the judges assigned to the same court.
“Upon perusal of all the case files, I established that it is in only two cases where current judges at the Division recused themselves. In the rest of the case files, the trial judges have not recused themselves,” a letter by Justice Zeija, which was released last Thursday, read in part.
He added: “Therefore, my decision is that those cases will be heard and completed from [the] High Court Civil Division where a judge recuses himself/herself from hearing a certain case, that does not by implication exclude him or her from hearing other cases involving the same party, where the reasons for recusal in one case do not apply in the other(s).”
The 23 files had been sent to the Principal Judge for reallocation after Mr Mabirizi had disagreements with some of the judges at the court, including Justice Ssekaana who at one time sent him to Luzira prison for 18 months for contempt of court.
The Principal Judge also asserts that if one judge cannot hear a case, another one within the same division can hear it as opposed to reallocating the case to a different division
“The request to reallocate cases filed by Male H. Mabirizi Kiwanuka to be heard in a session by a judge outside the Civil Division, is not tenable because the Judiciary does not have funds to conduct such a session,” the letter read.
In a phone interview yesterday, Mr Mabirizi said there is need for “speedy justice” as some of his cases are more than three years old in the system.
“When you look at the list of cases, some of them are from as far back as 2019. Of course, Covid-19 came in and as we were trying to recover from it, Justice Musa Ssekaana became the head of the division and my wrangles with him began. He then directed that no case of mine be heard there and sent them for reallocation,” Mr Mabirizi said.
The disagreements between the head of the High Court, Civil Division, Justice Musa Ssekaana and Lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi began in 2019 during the hearing of an application challenging a decision by Justice Simon Byabakama to continue working as the Electoral Commission chairperson yet he had not relinquished his powers as a Justice of Court of Appeal.
In many of the cases, Mr Mabirizi is suing the Attorney General, the principal legal advisor of government.
Other respondents are MTN Uganda, Uganda Communications Commission, Makerere University, and Electoral Commission.