Ugandian judges to decide Bobi’s poll petition

Mamos Media

NUP presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi is blocked by security operatives from accessing Kasese Town where he was scheduled to address a campaign rally on November 25 last year.PHOTO/FILE


National Unity Platform (NUP) party leader Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, has notified the Supreme Court that he will file a petition challenging the re-election of President Museveni tomorrow, the Judiciary has confirmed. 

This will be the fourth time President Museveni’s election will be challenged, the previous occasions being 2001, 2006 and 2016. 

Commenting about the development, Judiciary spokesperson Jameson Karemani said: “It is true Mr Kyagulanyi’s lawyers had written to the court to allow them to file their petition today (Saturday) but the Chief Justice advised that they file it on Monday.”

Time factor
Mr Kyagulanyi’s lawyers are racing against time because the law gives an aggrieved candidate a maximum of 15 days after the results have been released in which to file a petition. 
The results were declared on January 16, meaning the 15 days expire today. But since it is a weekend, the Chief Justice has allowed the petition to be filed tomorrow.  
Mr Kyagulanyi disputes the results that the Electoral Commission (EC) has published that show that President Museveni was re-elected with 58.38 per cent in the January 14 polls. 

Mr Kyagulanyi came second with 35.08 per cent, with the rest of the votes being shared by the remaining nine candidates. 

Decision to go to court
Whether or not to challenge the elections in court has been a contentious issue within Mr Kyagulanyi’s camp, with some saying it is a waste of time and they don’t expect the Supreme Court, which has not annulled any of Mr Museveni’s three victories that were challenged in the past, will do so this time.  Advertisement

In 2001 and 2006, Dr Kizza Besigye challenged Mr Museveni’s victories and lost narrowly – two to three in the first one, and three to four in the second – with the main issue being that whereas a number of election irregularities were proved, the petitioner could not convince majority of the justices that the extent of rigging substantially affected the results. 

Mbabazi petition
But Mr Museveni had it much easier in 2016 when Mr Amama Mbabazi challenged his re-election, with all nine justices ruling to uphold the outcome. 

On that occasion, Mr Mbabazi had come a distant third and Dr Besigye – who had been Mr Museveni’s biggest challenger in the election – locked up in his home and unable to move out and put together a petition although he said the thought had crossed his mind despite repeatedly saying in the past that he would never return to court to challenge Mr Museveni’s re-election.

Here are the short profiles of the judges out of whom the panel that will determine Mr Kyagulanyi’s petition will be picked.       

Justice Faith Mwondha

Justice Faith Mwondha was a magistrate before she became a delegate in the Constituent Assembly, and also served as a commissioner at the Uganda Human Rights Commission. 

She was first appointed judge of the High Court in 2001 and four years later was designated as the Inspector General of Government (IGG), a position she held for a decade before returning to the Judiciary and eventually rising to the Supreme Court. 

During the hearing of the appeal on the presidential age limit case in 2018, Justice Mwonda raised dust when she pointed out that whereas she was not among the seven judges who former Chief Justice Katureebe had assigned to hear the appeal, honoraria [a payment given for professional services that are rendered nominally without charge] had been budgeted for her and three other colleagues who were also not on the case.  
She was on the panel that upheld the victory of Preident Museveni in 2016. 

If named onto the panel, this will be her second shot.

Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, CJ

Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny – Dollo has served in all the three arms of the State. He had 24 years in legal practice, served as a Constituent Assembly Delegate, Member of Parliament and minister. 

In the Judiciary, he was first appointed High Court Judge, rose to become Deputy Chief Justice and head of the Court of Appeal and eventually became Chief Justice last year, replacing the retired Chief Justice Bart Katureebe.

While he was head of the International Crimes Division of the High Court, he presided over the terrorism trial of 13 men accused of perpetrating the 2010 Kampala twin bombings (2015-2016). 

As Deputy Chief Justice and head of the Court of Appeal, which doubles as the Constitutional Court, Justice Owiny-Dollo led a team of five justices to Mbale court where they heard the presidential age limit petition and in a majority decision of 4:1, upheld the removal of Article 102 (b) from the Constitution. Justice Owiny-Dollo voted with the majority.

Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza

Prof Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza previously served as a faculty member and administrator at Makerere University, before joining the Bench. 

She was the first female deputy dean of Makerere’s Faculty of Law and the first woman to be named deputy vice-chancellor at that university. 

She also served as acting vice chancellor of Makerere University from April to October, 2009.

Justice Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza was recently elected to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) for a five-year term. The ICJ is composed of 60 eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world. 

The ICJ promotes and protects human rights through the rule of law by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems. 

One of Justice Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza’s most memorable decisions in the Supreme Court was to quash the effort by President Museveni to reappoint former Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki to the position after his term had expired.  

She was among the panel of seven justices in 2016 that upheld the victory of President Museveni that had been challenged by his former prime minister, Patrick Amama Mbabazi.

Prof Tibatemwa was also among the dissenting minority three justices of the Supreme Court about two years ago, who declined on appeal to uphold the amendment of the Constitution by 317 MPs to remove the presidential age limit clauses of Article 102 (b).

Once named on the panel to hear the presidential election petition, this will be her second shot.

Paul Kahaibale Mugamba

 Justice Mugamba was elevated to the Supreme Court in 2017 from the Court of Appeal/ Constitutional Court.  Prior to that, he served as a judge of the High Court.

While at the High Court and prior to his elevation to the Court of Appeal, he was the head of the Anti-Corruption Court, where he tried several government officials charged with corruption.

He was also one of the three minority dissenting justices of the Supreme Court who ruled that the amendment to remove the presidential age limit clauses from the constitution by Parliament was unconstitutional.

Once named onto the panel, this will be his first time to hear a presidential election petition.

 Esther Mayambala Kisaakye

Justice Kisaakye was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2009, and previously served as vice chairperson of the Association of Uganda Women Lawyers, which ran a legal aid clinic.

In 1993, she was selected by the Leadership & Advocacy for Women in Africa Program to do a Masters of Laws on Women’s Rights at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington DC, US. 

The East African Journal on Peace & Human Rights published her thesis, “Changing the Terms of the Debate to Resolve the Polygamy Question in Africa.”

She is among Africa’s most notable scholars and was a lecturer at Makerere University.

She is/was a Board member of the Uganda Aids Commission and a co-founder of the Strategic Litigation Coalition.
Justice Kisakye also served as president of the National Association of Women Judges in Uganda. 

In April 2013, she was appointed the chairperson of the East African Judicial Committee. She has been central to the calls for the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) of 2009.

Justice Kisakye was one of the seven judges who heard the MPs’ petition challenging the Constitutional Court ruling that temporarily locked them out of Parliament. In her minority ruling, Justice Kisakye argued that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to hear the MPs’ application. 

She was one of the justices who upheld Mr Museveni’s victory in 2016.

She was on the nine-member panel that upheld President Museveni’s victory in 2016. Once named on the panel, this will be her second time.

Justice Stella Arach Amoko

She joined the bench in 1997 as a High Court judge before being promoted to the Court of Appeal in 2010.

In her career as a judge, she has handled many election petitions. In 2006, as Judge of the High Court, Arach Amoko dismissed the petition in which NRM’s Francis Babu had challenged Erias Lukwago’s victory as Kampala Central MP. 

At the Court of Appeal, in 2012, Arach Amoko wrote the lead judgment that nullified NRM’s Faisal Kikulukunyu’s victory as the MP for Butambala County. The ruling benefited DP’s Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi.

Justice Arach Amoko served in the Attorney General’s chambers from 1979 to 1997 and rose from being a state attorney to commissioner for civil litigation. She was among the nominees the Judicial Service Commission had recommended for appointment as Chief Justice.

Justice Arach was appointed judge of East African Court of Justice in June 2006, and as a deputy Principal Judge of the First Instance Division in November 2008, she served for seven years at the East African Court of Justice.

She was one of the nine justices who upheld President Museveni’s victory in 2016.

She was among the majority justices of the Court that upheld on appeal for the removal of the presidential age limit clauses from the Constitution by MPs.
If named on the panel, it will be her second take.

 Rubby Opio Aweri

Born in 1953, Justice Opio’s career began in Soroti District, where he was a legal assistant in 1982.

The following year, he joined the Judiciary as a Grade One magistrate and rose through the ranks to become judge of the High Court in 1998. 

He was elevated to Court of Appeal in 2013 and to the Supreme Court in September 2015. 

If he makes the panel, he will be hearing his second presidential election petition, having been a member of the nine-member panel which in 2016 unanimously upheld the re-election of President Museveni after former presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi had challenged it.

He was among the majority justices of the court that upheld on appeal, the removal of the presidential age limit clauses from the Constitution by Parliament.

Justice Aweri was also on the 2016 panel that upheld the victory of President Museveni.

Percy Night Tuhaise 

Justice Tuhaise was also elevated to the Supreme Court from the Court of Appeal about two years ago, just like Justice Muhagunzi. She had briefly served at the Court of Appeal/ Constitutional Court. 

Prior to that, she was the head of the Family Division of the High Court and also a member of the Governing Council, Judicial Training Institute. 

She was also one of the three presiding judges on the panel that heard the infamous Muslim clerics case before the International Crimes Division of the High Court.

Outside legal duties, Justice Tuhaise participated in the translation of the 1995 Constitution into Runyoro/Rutooro under the supervision of the Law Development Centre (LDC). 

Other assignments that she has ever handled include serving as deputy Director, LDC, vice chairperson of Electricity Disputes Tribunal, commissioner of Uganda Law Reform Commission, national coordinator of Women & Law in East Africa, Uganda Chapter.  
She has also authored a number of publications, including Human Rights and the 1995 Constitution, Uganda Law Focus, 1998, Vol.1 No.1 p.30, Affirmative Action and the Status of Women in Uganda, East African Journal of Peace and Human Rights, Vol.6 No.1 p.98 (co-authored). 
If named on the panel, it will be her first time to hear a presidential election petition.

Mike Chibita 

He is the newest member at the Supreme Court bench. Prior to that, he was the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), where he was appointed in October 2013. Prior to his appointment as the Chief government prosecutor, he was a judge of the High Court.

While at the High Court, he was the deputy Head of the Land Division, Masaka High Court judge and a resident judge of Fort Portal. 

Between 1996 and 2003, he served as a Private Secretary /Legal Affairs to President Museveni. 

Thereafter, he returned to the Attorney General’s Chambers as a Principal State Attorney, a position he served in between 2003 and 2005.

He was the president of Advocates Africa 2013, a member of Advocates International Global Council from 2010 to date.
 Justice Chibita was the president of Uganda Christian Lawyers Fellowship (1998-2005) and was the Board chairperson, Scripture Union of Uganda (2008-2011).

If he is named among the justices to hear the presidential petition, it will be his first time.

Ezekiel Muhanguzi 

Justice Muhanguzi was appointed to the Supreme Court about two years ago upon elevation from the Court of Appeal/ Constitutional Court. Prior to joining the Court of Appeal, he had retired as High Court judge, hence being recalled back from retirement. 

While at the High Court, Justice Muhanguzi headed the panel in a case of Muslim clerics trial. He was also the deputy head of International Crimes Division.

He started his legal career in 1977 as a State Attorney and left in 1980 for private practice, only to return to public office in 2005.  

Since 2013, Justice Muhanguzi has been serving as the president of Bible Society of Uganda. He is also the chancellor of African Rural University, a position he has occupied since 2010. 

From 2009 to 2012, he served as chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry in the Mismanagement of Funds under Universal Primary Education and Universal Secondary Education. He also served as member of the Judicial Service Commission. If named on the panel to hear the presidential election petitions, this will be his first time to do so.

Source Daily Monitor.

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