By Ivan Rugambwa
Lawyers under their association-the Uganda Law Society (ULS) yesterday decided to suspend the attorney- Hon. Peter Nyombi accusing him of misadvising the President and giving legal opinions that are inconsistent with the Ugandan Constitution.
In its extraordinary general assembly held at Imperial Royale Hotel yesterday, the lawyers voted to suspend the attorney General from ULS, and to issue him with ‘a certificate of incompetence’. They also resolved as the Lawyers’ body to disassociate themselves from Nyombi’s legal opinions and to refer the attorney general for trial to the Law Council.
The Attorney General’s suspension follows 2 petitions to the Law Society one by a group of Lawyers led by city lawyer Jude Mbabali and another by former ULS President- Mr. Bruce Kyerere in which they accused Nyombi of being a ‘disgrace’ to the Law profession in relation to his controversial legal opinions to the government and the President.
Some of Nyombi’s contentional legal Opinions include; his advice to the Speaker of Parliament advising against the expulsion of the expelled NRM rebel MPs, his advice to the President that okayed the appointment of Aronda Nyakairima as a cabinet minister, and recently, his advice to the President concerning the re-appointment of retired Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki back to the supreme court bench.
As such, the lawyers also resolved to urge Odoki to consider declining his re-appointment, to call upon the 9th appointment to reject his appointment, and to challenge his appointment in the constitutional court, as the last resort in the event that Odoki successfully became re-appointed to the bench.
However, some lawyers against the suspension of Mr. Nyombi argued that the ULS had no powers to suspend the attorney general, arguing that the Attorney General was by virtue of his office an ex-official of the body, and thus ULS could not suspend him.
They also pointed out that some of the issues that Nyombi was being faulted for were already in courts of law, and that by suspending Nyombi, the lawyers were breaking the subjudice law.
Others like city lawyer, Mr. Frank Kanduho argued that the lawyers were committing an ‘illegality’ by attempting to punish Nyombi for having a contrary legal Opinion, arguing that having divergent legal opinions was acceptable in law.
Mr. Nyombi on the other hand has always maintained that since the President has never complained about his advice to him, what the lawyers were doing was ‘nonsensical.’
But Nyombi is not the first Attorney General to be suspended by the Law Society. In 2007, his predecessor, Hon. Khiddu Makubuya, a Harvard trained law Professor was suspended by the ULS on almost the same grounds. Now the Lawyers have resolved to petition parliament to considershielding the Attorney General’s office from any kind of Political interference.