President Yoweri Museveni on Thursday swore in a record 25 judges giving a major boost to the judiciary sector that also saw government approve an immediate 22billion shillings in retirement benefits, 20 billion shillings to start off the new justices and an extra 5 billion shillings in salary enhancements for judicial officers.
The Chief justice will now earn 12million per month while the lowest judge will earn 9.3million shillings.
He is also the first President to appoint such a number of judges at a go anywhere in the world.
A jovial President Museveni hailed the judiciary for convicting Geoffrey Kazinda, the former principal account in OPM over corruption in the Prime Minister’s Office, declaring `If they had done the usual story, I don’t know what would have happened. This is your battle; we fought to bring physical security now you must ensure the rule of law.”
The President said he was beginning to be happy now that junior colleagues and young people are taking up positions of responsibility, saying the country is and will remain peaceful and is growing economically, adding that while we are happy to have donors, it is important for the country to build its own capacity for development including attracting investments and the ability to borrow without going through lending agencies.
He said the judges have a challenge to deliver services to the people including stopping theft, corruption, murders, rape, defilement etc in partnership with the police who do the investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who bring in the cases to bring for additional peace.
The President urged the new justices to build and jealously guard their reputation, saying if there is a weak judicial system, the alternative is that people take the law into their own hands. Citing the example of a member of parliament convicted of killing his wife and now serving a sentence in Luzira and the recent revenge clan clashes in northern Uganda over murder, the president warned against granting bail to suspected murderers.
“If you have impunity and it goes on, people withdraw from your judiciary system to their own system. You are managing very delicate situations because the old system is still underneath. Africans can’t tolerate impunity. The struggle now is to work in partnership with you. It is not like in the bush where we had the holy trinity, here there is division of duties. Take this serious and don’t tolerate impunity for murder rape, defilement and treason… you can incite parallel systems of settling accounts,” he said.
He warned young judges against sitting for a long time without exercises saying this is dangerous to their health and they must find time off work to exercise, eat and sleep early, adding that they must find time from their sedentary lives to be active.
The new justices and judges designate introduced and sworn on Thursday respectively include; Justice Amos Twinomujuni (Supreme Court), Lady Justice Stella Arach-Amoko (Supreme Court), Lady Justice Solomy Balungi Bossa (Justice of Appeal), Justice Eldad Mwangusya (Justice of Appeal), Justice Rubby Aweri Opio (Justice of Appeal), Lady Justice Faith Mwondha (Justice of Appeal).
Those sworn in include, Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza (Justice of Appeal), Richard Buteera (Justice of Appeal), Kenneth Kakuru (Justice of Appeal), Henry Peter Adonyo (High Court), Margaret Tibulya (High Court), Elizabeth Alividza (High Court), Godfrey Namundi (High Court), Henrietta Wolayo (High Court), David Batema (High Court), John Eudes Keitirima (High Court), Henry Kaweesa Isabirye (High Court), Elizabeth Kibula Kabanda (High Court), Damalie Lwanga (High Court), Lydia Mugambe Ssali (High Court), Vincent Okwanga (High Court), Alexandra Nkonge Rugadya (High Court), Dr. Winfred Nabisinde 9High Court), Eva Luswata (High Court) and Micheal Elubu (High Court)
The Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki commended the President for what he described as a record number of appointments, saying no president has ever appointed 27 judges at ago and that this is a bumper harvest for the judiciary.
He cautioned the new judges to stay in the judiciary and not leave but build their country.
“Don’t just come in large numbers and say that you have arrived, 35 years ago in june I joined the judiciary and I still have the energy. If you keep well, you can still deliver for a long time,” he said.
He hailed government for the retirement package of the judges alongside their pension, the first time retird judges will receive a retirement package in the country. He urged the new justices to use their skills and energy to serve, reduce stress, not be lazy and most of all have integrity.
“If you come to judiciary to look for money, it is not there,” he said.