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Mabirizi withdraws age limit judgement review application from Supreme Court

FILE PHOTO: Lawyer Male Mabirizi

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Male Mabirizi has withdrawn his application seeking a review of the Supreme Court decision upholding the scraping of the presidential age limit from the constitution. He announced the decision before a panel of seven Supreme Court justices this morning and didn’t specify reasons for the move.

The justices are Dr. Esther Kisaakye, Faith Mwondha, Paul Mugamba, Mike Chibita, Percy Night Tuhaise, Rubby Apio Aweri and Prof. Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza. Mabirizi told the judges that since the Attorney General hadn’t even filed any response to his application, they should be pleased to endorse his decision to withdraw it without issuing any orders.

However, the Commissioner in charge of Civil Litigation, George Kallemera and Phillip Mwaka who represented the Attorney General asked court to direct Mabirizi to meet the costs of the suit. In their response, the Justices led by Dr. Kisaakye concurred Mabirizi’s submission.

They approved the withdrawal of the application and declined to direct Mabirizi to meet costs of the suit. Mabirizi had petitioned court to review the majority decision of seven Supreme Court justices delivered on April 18, 2019, in which they upheld the constitutional court verdict indicating that the Constitutional Amendment number 2 Bill of 2017 that paved way for the scrapping of the presidential age limit was validly passed by parliament.

Those who ruled in favor of the bill included the former Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, Jotham Tumwesigye, Opio Aweri and Stellah Arach Amoko. The remaining three justices including Lillian Tibatemwa, Paul Mugamba and Eldard Mwanguhya said the entire process leading to the passing of the bill was characterized by irregularities including violence, failure to consult citizens and absence of a certificate of compliance.

However, Mabirizi who was one of seven petitioners in the consolidated appeal decided to return to the Supreme Court demanding for a review of the decision. He challenged the competency and impartiality of the Judges who upheld the constitutional court decision. He argued that the then Chief Justice Katureebe wasn’t competent to write his judgment given the fact that he was ill for over five weeks preceding the delivery of the judgment on top of being a long-time friend of Museveni.

Mabirizi argued that Katureebe’s illness compromised his independence since he required state clearance to travel for treatment abroad. He also faulted Justice Arach-Amoko for not being competent enough to hear the case since her husband Ambassador Idule Amoko is a political appointee of President Yoweri Museveni, the biggest beneficiary of the Supreme Court decision. He said there was no way Justice Amoko would annoy the President yet her husband’s source of income is determined by him.

He also noted that Justice Jotham Tumwesigye wasn’t competent to sit as a Justice in the matter having studied with and being an old time friend of President Museveni since their early days at Ntare school. Mabirizi also said Tumwesigye worked as the Director of Legal Affairs at the National Resistance Movement Secretariat, a political structure whose chairperson is the incumbent president, Yoweri Museveni.

He also argued that during his tenure as Inspector General of Government, Justice Tumwesigye worked closely with Constitutional Court Judge Elizabeth Musoke who ruled in favor of the bill. Mabirizi informed court that he didn’t have the information relating to the past and current friendship and relationship of Katureebe, Arach-Amoko and Tumwesigye with President Museveni when he was filing his application.

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