Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Chief Justice Alphonse Owinyi-Dollo has said that the Supreme Court which he heads will not be intimidated by anybody while going about its business of determining the presidential election petition.
At the beginning of this month, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, the former National Unity Platform presidential candidate filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the election of President Museveni. The petition is being heard by nine Justices.
However on Tuesday while addressing a press conference at his office in Kampala, Kyagulanyi said he has no confidence in three of the Justices because of their previous relationship with President Yoweri Museveni. The three include Chief Justice Owinyi-Dollo, Mike Chibita and Ezekiel Muhanguzi whom he said is a close relative of the Minister of Security Elly Tumwine.
Today, the Supreme Court proceeded to hear an application in which Kyagulanyi wants the court to admit over 150 affidavits which were rejected last week for being filed out of time. However, before the hearing of the application could start, Attorney General William Byaruhanga complained to the court about what he called the intimidation of the Justices by Kyagulanyi.
“As the head of the bar, I would like to raise an issue concerning the conduct in this case. When we were here last time, we were guided and told that when a party gets grievances, they should bring them to court. What we are witnessing at this time is like a scheme to intimidate this court,” Byaruhanga said.
He added that he watched TV and read in newspaper reports where Kyagulanyi expressed his displeasure with the participation of some of the Justices in his case. “He called a press conference and said he didn’t have confidence that he was to get justice from the three Justices. The litigant has a right to ask for recusal but not to do it through a press conference. He pleaded to a different gallery,” Byaruhanga said.
In response, Medard Lubega Sseggona who is the lead counsel for Kyagulanyi said he didn’t have any instructions for the said judges to recuse themselves. “I agree that the matter in court should be in the hands of the court and that has been my practice for 18 years,” Sseggona said.
In reacting to the submission, Owiny-Dollo said whatever is circulating in the public will have no bearing on how the court will determine the case. He said as a judicial officer, they swore an oath to serve justice to all people.
Dollo who spoke for nine minutes said that whatever Kyagulanyi says, he will not be able to intimidate court to act in the way that he wants, to the merit of the case he brought before them. The Chief Justice added that if indeed Kyagulanyi wanted them out of his case, he should have written an application and asked them to instead of maligning them knowing that they will not have an opportunity to respond.
“We are not opposed to fair criticism and the position we hold expects such criticism… Criticize my conduct, criticize my decisions, tear [them] to pieces but when you attack my person… when you know I don’t have the opportunity to stand up and respond to you…” Dollo said.
He added that the judiciary will decide in the favour of any party that presents a good case, thereafter quipping that, “Let me also say, this. Fortunately I know the Chief Justice of Uganda very well… I have known him since childhood. If anyone thinks they can intimidate, blackmail that Chief Justice of Uganda, then they’re heading for a crash against a huge rock.”
He went ahead to state that, “If indeed the petitioner chooses to take another path we can’t stop him from proceeding, you don’t need our permission you can proceed with your Plan B.”