Uganda’s Attorney General, Peter Nyombi has asked the country’s Supreme Court to strike out the notice of appeal lodged by Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga in connection to the re-appointment of retired Justice Benjamin Odoki as Chief Justice.
The AG claims MP Karuhanga served him with the notice to appeal outside the seven days stipulated under the Supreme Court rules.
Nyombi in his application dated March 24 to Supreme Court; explains that he was served with the notice of appeal, 18 days after being filed in court, an oversight he says is illegal and that the very notice of appeal be struck out with costs.
The legislator had through his lawyer Prof. George Kanyeihamba appealed to the Supreme Court against the decision of two Constitutional Court justices; Steven Kavuma and Augustine Nshimye for refusing to disqualify themselves from the coram hearing the Odoki reappointment petition over alleged bias.
Nyombi’s application is supported by an affidavit of Mr Richard Adrole, a state attorney in his chambers.
Mr Adrole states that MP Karuhanga on January 17 lodged a notice of appeal before the Supreme Court after the two justices declined to disqualify themselves from the coram hearing Odoki reappointment case.
He goes ahead to say that on February 3, the MP served the said notice onto the AG, 18 days after filing and yet the Supreme Court rules demand that such appeals should be served on the affected persons within a period of seven days after lodging a notice of appeal in court.
The Supreme Court had not fixed a date to hear AG’s application to have MP Karuhanga’s notice of appeal struck out.
Should the Supreme Court agree with the AG’s request to strike out MP Karuhanga’s notice of appeal, then the Constitutional Court will resume hearing Odoki case that has stalled since January this year.
This matter arose late last year when the youthful MP sued the AG before the Constitutional Court challenging President Museveni’s action in re-appointing retired Justice Odoki as Chief Justice; saying his reappointment contravenes articles 130, 133, 142 (1) (2) (3), 143 (1), 144 (1) (a) (2) of the constitution.
The law maker also argues that the constitution does not provide for the re-appointment of a retired Chief Justice to the post of a substantive Chief Justice of Uganda.
He further accuses the President of not following the recommendations of the Judicial Service Commission that forwarded the name of Supreme Court Justice Bart Katureebe as the suitable candidate to replace Justice Odoki but the President instead re-appointed him, a move he says is unconstitutional.
But the government has since defended the re-appointment of Justice Odoki as being constitutional and that there will be no gross abuse of the rule of law and constitutionalism to that effect.
Justice Odoki clocked the retirement age of 70 on March 23 last year before serving out the three months extension that ended on June 23. He had served in the judiciary for 35 years with the last 12 as Chief Justice.
However, President Museveni in a July 9, 2013 letter addressed to the chairman of the JSC Justice James Ogoola, directed that Mr Odoki be given a two year contract in order to maximise the services of our human resource.
The President also directed that other three retired Supreme Court justices; John Wilson Tsekooko, Christine Kitumba and Gildino Okello; be recalled to the Bench and indeed they have reported for duty.