Furious Kanyeihamba Walks Out Of Odoki Case

The Chief Justice Benjamin-Odoki

President Museveni has asked Parliament to approve Justice Odoki as the Chief Justice for two more years
President Museveni has asked Parliament to approve Justice Odoki as the Chief Justice for two more years

Justice George Kanyeihamba on Monday walked out of court as the Constitutional Court heard the petition challenging the reappointment of Benjamin Odoki as Chief Justice.

Kanyeihamba is the lead counsel for Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga, who is challenging the reappointment of Benjamin Odoki who retired a year ago after turning 70 years.

Kanyeihamba, in his robe and judicial wig, exchanged words with the panel of judges over their decision to continue the petition after ruling that the judges mentioned as biased had ‘gone off the bench’.

The five man bench led by Justice Remmy Kasule found no merit in the argument that some of them were biased. Kasule told the lowly attended court session that the judges had seen no order to stop proceedings from going upfront and were convinced that the court is properly constituted as the judges who were in question had been withdrawn from the case.

Kanyeihamba had earlier objected to the presence of Justices Sam Kavuma and Augustine Nshimye on the bench, whom he accused of bias. He filed a petition with the Supreme Court to express his disappointment.

On arrival in court today, the two judges were missing, but Kanyeihamba insisted that as a matter of principle the judges should recuse themselves before the case could go on. He also added that he had instructions from his client, MP Gerald Karuhanga, to file a petition before the Supreme Court and that required that the case be halted.

The fiery exchange ended with the walk-out of Kanyeihamba from court, though the proceedings went on. Karuhanga, who was also in court, also walked out with Kanyeihamba.

Court is examining whether the appointment of former Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki to the office after he has attained the required age for retirement is constitutional.

In Kanyeihamba’s absence, Principal State Attorney Wanyama Kadoli argued to the court that advice from the judicial service commission to the President on whether Odoki could be appointed as Chief Justice was not binding.  He argued that a President can choose to disregard the advice and that in the particular case, the letter of the attorney general had helped ‘clear the air’.

Retired Judge George Kanyeihamba is known for his no nonsense nature
Retired Judge George Kanyeihamba is known for his no nonsense nature

A vividly inquisitive bench questioned Kadoli on whether advice on an illegality like the occupation of an office beyond the constitutionally agreed upon age can be neglected.

Fresh evidence of three letters authored by the Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission, Justice James Ogoola, to the president indicated that on three different occasions, Ogoola had told the president that there were ‘reservations’ to the appointment of Odoki as the Chief Justice as he had attained the maximum age of 70 according to Article 143 of the constitution.

In one of the letters dated August 1, 2013 and attached as an annexure to the court documents, Ogoola wrote to the President cautioning him that ‘to advise him otherwise would be an illegality’.

Court has reserved its judgment to be delivered on notice.

Karuhanga ran to the constitutional court to challenge the appointment of Benjamin Odoki as the chief justice of Uganda citing that he had attained 70 years of age and was unqualified for the job. As it stands, Uganda still has no substantive chief justice.

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9 thoughts on “Furious Kanyeihamba Walks Out Of Odoki Case

  1. If the petitioner walks out, then he has lost interest in the case. Is it then prudent that court continues with the hearings?

    Any takers?

    1. The petitioners’ “walking out” does not necessarily mean that he/she has lost interest in the case. Even from this story, it does not in anyway lead to your conclusion. If the Petitioner and his lawyers are unsatisfied with how the bench is handling the case, they are free to walk out. They may choose to go to a higher court and seek to either halt the proceedings or help to address their grievance before proceedings continue. I do not see why you are making that simplistic conclusion!

  2. Ssesanga wrote “What would one expect from a clearly NRM leaning
    bunch of Judges?” Guys, i thought Kanyeihamba has always been part of
    this NRM government. I do not know when he ceased being NRM. Otherwise,
    if we are to develop professionalism in this country, we need to get to
    the point of putting our political opinions out of everything that we

    On wether Ogoola’s advice can or can not be ignored, then what is the
    purpose of designating the appointing authority? Or else we should
    ammend the constitution to state that the Chairman JSC is the appointing
    authority and not the president. Assuming FDC had won the 2011
    presidential elections and NRM formed the opposition with it’s current
    numerical strength in parliament, a more tense scenario would have
    occured whereby the executive appointed a chief justice and parliament
    refused to approve him or her and im very certain the same Muzei Justice
    Kanyeihamba would be in court arguing the opposite.

    1. politics is just inevitable in our usual lives however much you try to avoid it ,it influences you and it determines your livelihood as a Ugandan

      if u say that we rule it out its total pretence ,we can only learn to regulate it to fit and live it

      what makes matters worse is that the political environment in Uganda is damn stinking which makes it unfavourable and irrelevant
      kanyeihamba maybe part of NRM but he is right in his mind to detest what he sees going wrong within his party!!!

  3. I have never known whether the lawyers occupation qualifies to be called a profession. Unlike other professions where basic principles are clearly defined and uniformly understood across the board, the legal minds just argue on everything to impress the judge who is at liberty to fall on either side. And a judge may reverse the judgement of another. Can you imagine if two doctors started an argument on whether a patient should be treated of Malaria or Typhoid after doing independent assessment of your illness. If you are that patient would you ever trust doctor again?

  4. Does walking-out mean that next time he comes back to the same panel of judges they will listen to him and do what he wants them to do? I think the issue here may not necessarily be the appointing authority but the constitution which was once celebrated as one of the world’s best. Until Ugandans revisit this constitution we shall continue to ‘enjoy drama’ like this one.

  5. it ain’t a surprise
    kanyeihamba does not tolerate nonsense and he is short tempered
    That same nature has been reflected during the citizen’s debate via Africana Hotel
    i gladly justify the fury, its for a cause and a genuine one

  6. Why didnt Kanyeihamba demonstrate like the opposition why did he have to go to court. Once beaten twice shy even during hearing of rebel Mps he ran out

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