Will the Age Limit Amendment be scrapped off?
MBALE TOWN, EASTER UGANDA
On monday, the constitutional court started hearing petitions of the controversial Age Amendment bill (Constitutional Bill Amendment (No.2) Bill 2017) that was passed into law On December 20, 2017.
The Constitutional Bill Amendment (No.2) Bill 2017 amended the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda in accordance with articles 259 and 262 of the Constitution to provide for the time within which to hold presidential, parliamentary and local government council election under article 61 and eligibility requirements for a person to be elected as President or District Chairperson under the articles 102(b) and 183(2) (b) as well as increasing the number of days within which to file and determine a presidential election petition under 104(b) and for related matters. The bill went on to increase the presidential and parliamentary term limits from the current five to seven years.
The petitioners included Uganda Law Society, six opposition members of Parliament, lawyer Male Mabirizi, former presidential candidate Abed Bwanika, and Prosper Businge (Concerned Citizen) were represented by Mr Dan Wandera Ogalo, James Byamukama, Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, Erias Lukwago, Yusufu Musembuli, James Jjabi, Moses Okalany, Luyimbazi Nalukoola, and Wanjiyu Badru.
Mwesigwa Rukutana, the Deputy Attorney General, herein cited as the Respondent was assisted by Mr Francis Atoke (The Solicitor General) Ms Christine Kaakwa (The Acting Director of Civil litigation) Martin Mwambutsya, Henry Oluka, Elisha Bafirawala, George Kalemera, Richard Adrole, Geoffrey Madete, Imelda Adongo, Sussan Akello, Johnson Akwera and Jackie Amusgut.
The judges panel was led by Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo and included Cheborion Barishaki, Remmy Kasule Elizabeth Musoke, and Kenneth Kakuru.
The Petitioners had listed several state officials & members of parliament to be subpoenaed and explain the roles they played in amendment process. The biggest ruling of day one was in favor of Respondent Rukutana’s favor and saw the Petitioners forming a joint petition and Mr Male Mabirizi. The ruling also barred Hon. Rebecca Kadaga from being summoned by this same petition as the judges saw NO REASON compel the speaker to appear before the court.
Dollo: The learned Attorney General, I have followed your submission. Isn’t there a difference between protecting the Speaker and Deputy from being held liable from official duties? I am not making my ruling but does the law that you are reading from exempt her from being cross-examined? If we find that she didn’t do it outside the law, fine, but if we find that she acted outside the law, we hold her liable.
Kakuru: How can the Speaker be immune from the constitution?
Rukutana: My lord, I take your wise counsel.
Kasule: The Speaker or Deputy or any officer of Parliament enjoys immunity. But if they voluntarily swear in an affidavit in support of any case in court, then they subject themselves to the whims of court
Rukutana: I wouldn’t have said it any much better. But the party seeking to cross-examine her must satisfy court.
There was some commotion at the start of the hearing as the Deputy Chief Justice was describing why the joint petition excluded Lawyer Male Mabirizi.
Deputy Chief Justice, Dollo: Let me make my ruling. Mr Mabirizi is a petitioner and he has every right to be heard. The other petitioners have been represented. The right to be heard does not mean the right to choose where to sit. You would even be sitting next to me here. Accordingly, you will not sit at the Bar.
Mabirizi: My lord, I will appeal
Dollo: You have a right to do so (Mabiriizi interjects but he is overruled by court). Mr Mabirizi, we are not here to play games.
Kakuru: This is not a marketplace.
Dollo: I can throw you out of this court using court orderlies and your case will be heard alone.
Justice Kakuru: You are appealing and your case will be pulled out of the consolidation [consolidated petitions).
Male: My lords, I am appealing that decision.
Dollo: No, you have to put it in writing
The judges ruled that the other witnesses have to appear before court on April 17 at 9am for cross examination. Including Muhakanizi who is accused of granting Certificates of Financial Implication to support a private members bill without budget. Muhoozi Kainerugaba and Mwesigwa are to be cross examined on their roles played during one of the debates that saw the presidential guards police personnel and other security personnel flouted parliamentary house rules.
The Kampala City Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago was worried the Panel of Judges had excluded one of the main cases from the consolidated petitions.
Lukwago: When the consolidated petitions were read out the main case was not read out…. Then there is the substantive petition of Hon. Karuhanga and 5 others Vs Attorney General. The reference was left out, pending your ruling.
Dollo: That main one is before us.
Lukwago: If it is going to be heard separately, then it has to be cause-listed separately. The clarification I was seeking was whether both were consolidated. I want the names read out.
Dollo: Go ahead and read the names but it is good manners to stand up when your name is read out. (Lukwago reads out names of the six opposition MPs, Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality), Jonathan Odur (Erute County), Mubarak Munyagwa (Kawempe South), Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) Ibrahim Ssemujju (Kira Municipality) and Ms Winfred Kiiza).
The session went on with much tact from all parties involved, with most of the interactions centring around Mr Male Mabirizi’s petitions.
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