Ugandan Lawmakers Semujju Ibrahim Nganda and Theodore Sekikubo have vowed to attend plenary on Tuesday without apologizing to Jacob Oulanyah, the country’s Deputy speaker of parliament.
The threat by the MPs follows the violent eviction of Ssemujju from the house last week on the orders of Oulanyah.
The two MPs were suspended together with Odonga Otto and Angeline Osegge from the house by the deputy speaker for three sittings during a heated debate on the controversial Public order management Bill, which restricts public gatherings.
Shortly after the violent evictions of Semujju, Oulanya said none of the MPs would be allowed back in the house unless they apologize to him.
However, the MPs will not have any of this. Theodore Ssekikubo, the Lyemiyaga county MP insists parliament is the bastion of freedom of expression. He has advised the deputy speaker to find another place to further his political ambitions and play his politics.
Ssekikubo says if Oulanya is aggrieved, he should refer the matter to the Parliament’s rules and privileges committee for investigations before he demands for an apology from them.
The MP says he has written to the office of the Speaker of Parliament through his lawyers Victoria Advocates and Legal Consultants in regard to Oulanyah’s order. In the 7th October 2013 letter, Sekikubo’s lawyers note to Speaker Kadaga that after suspending their client Oulanyah grossly misdirected himself in interpreting the Rules of the House.
They argue that once the Deputy Speaker passed sentence on 1st August their client started serving the sentence. They argue that the Deputy Speaker could not recall the file on 6th August and impose additional punishments under the guise of spelling out details of the suspension.
The letter adds that the only detail of the suspension was that it would be three days and that an apology cannot with greatest respect be said to be a detail or condition of a suspension.
Section 80 (7) of the rule of procedures provides that once an affected legislator on his own expresses regret to the Speaker in writing, his suspension is lifted. Sekikubo’s lawyers contend that their client chose to serve the sentence, which ended on 8th August. They argue that demanding an apology from their client, would amount to double jeopardy since an apology is also a punishment.
The lawyer argue that a punishment of apology is provided for under Rule 82 and that it is only imposed by the committee on Rules, privileges and Discipline, when the member is found guilty. Sekikubo says he will show up in parliament on Tuesday to represent his people without apologizing to Oulanyah.
Semujju Nganda Ibrahim, the Kyadondo East MP on the other hand says Oulanyah does not know where his powers starts and stops. He says it is not too late for the deputy speaker to consider his decision saying parliament is not a place for flexing muscles.
He says that he is more than ready to ensure that the Rules of Procedure of parliament are upheld adding that, if Oulanyah wants to bring all armed men in Parliament he will fight them.
Wilfred Niwagaba, the Ndorwa Ease MP says when Oulanyah suspended the MPs his hands were tired. He says the speaker couldn’t come back to issue fresh orders or outline how the MPs were supposed to serve the punishment.
He says they are ready to move a motion on the floor of Parliament to debate Oulanyah’s ruling.