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Odoki reappointment: Court rejects Ogoola's oral evidence

Prof Kanyeihamba was seeking court’s permission, to allow Justice Ogoola appear in court during the hearing and back their argument that the JSC that he heads; did not recommend Justice Odoki’s name as a candidate for Judiciary’s top job.
The Constitutional Court has rejected a request to have Justice James Ogoola, the Chairman of The Judicial Service Commission appear in court in person to testify in support of the petition challenging the controversial reappointment of retired Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki as Chief Justice.

 

Court presided over by justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire took the position after Prof George Kanyeihamba, one of the lawyers representing the petitioner; Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga requested to appear in person and testify in support of the petition.

 

Prof Kanyeihamba was seeking court’s permission, to allow Justice Ogoola appear in court during the hearing and back their argument that the JSC that he heads; did not recommend Justice Odoki’s name as a candidate for Judiciary’s top job.

 

Court heard that Justice Ogoola was willing to give evidence to back MP Karuhanga’s petition but preferred to physically appear in court and testify than swearing in affidavits.

 

But Justice Kiryabwire in his ruling held that the Constitutional Court Petition Rules do not provide for oral evidence in support of any petitions.

 

The Judge explained that the law only allows evidence in form of sworn in affidavits to help in the swift hearing of the matter.

 

Principal State Attorney Wanyama Kodoli, represented attorney general Peter Nyombi, the respondent in this matter.

 

Wanyama presented to court an additional affidavit from Secretary to JSC, Kagole Kivumbi; stating that there is no minute from JSC, advising President Museveni not to reappoint retired Chief Justice Odoki as Chief Justice.

 

The case had come up for scheduling conferencing for the second time since it was filed in July this year.  This is where both parties in a civil matter, meet in a bid to narrow down controversial issues before the full hearing commences.

 

Upon concluding the scheduling conferencing, court fixed January 9 next year to hear this matter before a full panel of five justices.

 

MP Karuhanga is challenging the action of President Museveni in reappointing retired Justice Odoki as Chief Justice; saying his reappointment contravenes articles 130, 133, 142 (1) (2) (3), 143 (1), 144 (1) (a) (2) of the constitution.

 

The legislator argues that the constitution does not provide for the reappointment of a retired Chief Justice to the post of a substantive Chief Justice of Uganda.

 

He further accuses the President of not following the recommendations of the Judicial Service Commission that forwarded the name of Supreme Court Justice Bart Katureebe as the suitable candidate to replace Justice Odoki but the President instead reappointed him, a move he says is unconstitutional.

 

But the government through its chief legal advisor Peter Nyombi has defended the reappointment of Justice Odoki as being constitutional and that there will be no gross abuse of the rule of law and constitutionalism to that effect.

 

Justice Odoki clocked the retirement age of 70 on March 23 this year before serving out the three months extension that ended on June 23. He had served in the judiciary for 35 years with the last 12 as Chief Justice.

However, President Museveni in a July 9 letter addressed to the chairman of the JSC

 

Justice Ogoola, directed that Mr Odoki be given a two year contract in order to maximise the services of our human resource.

The President also directed that other three retired Supreme Court justices; John Wilson Tsekooko, Christine Kitumba and Gildino Okello; be recalled to the Bench and indeed they have reported for duty.

 

But Justice Odoki’s reappointment has been met with resistance from different players including Uganda Law Society, MPs and academicians on grounds that its illegal because he has already attained retirement age.

 

Justice Odoki’s name is now awaiting Parliament approval. He is currently working as an Acting justice of the Supreme Court.

 

Recently, Parliament reluctantly declined to approve him on grounds that there is a court case challenging the same

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