The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) has asked court for more time to enable it respond to the petition filed against it by three Members of Parliament.
The three legislators; Wilfred Niwagaba, Theodore Ssekikubo and Barnabas Tinkasiimire, sued their party on Thursday. They are seeking court orders blocking NRM from hearing the disciplinary proceedings against them that could result into expulsion from the party.
When the matter came up for hearing on Friday before registrar Festo Nsenga of the High Court, Geoffrey Kandebee, the lawyer who represented NRM, informed court that he had just been served with the petition and he had not yet consulted his clients before he could make a reply.
He explained that he had just received a call from the party Secretary General Amama Mbabazi instructing him to represent them in court but had not met him to advise on how to respond to the petition.
The lawyer for the legislators, Wandera Ogalo, did not object to the adjournment since he was also not fully prepared to argue the interim application. Wandera could not tell court how urgent the matter was since it was not included in the petition of when the NRM disciplinary committee would sit and take the decision of expelling his clients.
Subsequently, court adjourned the matter to Monday morning to enable the lawyers get organised before they can argue the application.
The outspoken legislators contend that the disciplinary committee is going to hear disciplinary proceedings against them without them being heard, an action they say is against the natural rules of justice.
Lwemiyaga MP Ssekikubo claims the party has not heeded to their demands to furnish them with details of why they should appear before the disciplinary committee. He claims that they needed the party to furnish them with details like what charges are against them, who is the complainant, the evidence they have among others.
Court documents show that the party served the MPs with the hearing notices through the press.
The legislators claim that once expelled by the party’s disciplinary committee, they will have no option to appeal against its decision since its final.
Court documents show that MPs Niwagaba and Tinkasiimire, who are active members of the Parliamentary Forum on Oil, opposed the party’s position on the heated oil debate. The documents further show that on November 26 2012, the MPs protested the ruling of the Speaker of Parliament to vote on the oil Bill contrary to the NRM Parliamentary Caucus decision to recommit the Bill voting.
Ssekikubo is accused of denouncing NRM before participating in the press conference and accusing his party of having bribed legislators to pass the health budget.
NRM claims to have on several occasions summoned the MPs since late last year to appear before the disciplinary committee and respond to these allegations but in vain.