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Judicial service commission probes alleged misconduct by chief justice Owiny-Dollo

Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  The Judicial Service Commission has started investigations into the alleged misconduct of Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo. The charges stem from a petition filed by lawyer Male Mabirizi accusing Dollo of incompetence and misconduct.

Mabirizi said that having served as a personal lawyer to President Yoweri Museveni, he did not qualify to head a panel that was constituted to hear a presidential election petition filed by Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, challenging the outcome of the January 14, polls. 

Kyagulanyi was seeking to overturn Museveni’s victory on grounds that the elections had been marred by several irregularities which included bribery, alteration of results, violence and intimidation. But Mabirizi argues that the Uganda Code of Judicial Conduct does not allow a Judicial officer to preside over a matter involving his or her former client.

He added that presiding over the petition, which was later withdrawn, would undermine Dollo’s integrity and he would be wrongly perceived by any reasonable person if he insisted to stay in the case. Before petitioning the Judicial Service Commission, Mabirizi first filed a formal application raising the said allegations against Owiny-Dollo.

But Owiny-Dollo declined to step down from the case arguing that Mabirizi’s application lacked merit. However, Mabirizi challenged the same before the East African Court of Justice and later to the Judicial Service Commission, where he called for the removal of the Chief Justice for misconduct.

“Your Commission’s competency and relevance to Ugandans is on a test as I write to trigger an unprecedented process for removal of a Chief Justice, ” reads Mabirizi’s petition to the commission headed by Justice Benjamin Kabiito.

It is on this basis that the Secretary to the Judicial Service Commission Julius Mwebembezi has announced investigations into the matter. “We acknowledge receipt of your complaint against the above-mentioned officer. The purpose of this letter, therefore, is to inform you that investigations have commenced and we will revert to you on the way forward as soon as investigations are completed”, reads the letter dated March 11, 2021.

Article 144 of the Constitution indicates that a Judicial officer shall be removed from office once an appointed Tribunal or Cabinet recommends to the President for them to be removed on grounds related to the infirmity of the body, misconduct or misbehaviour and incompetence.



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