Judges Hurting Over Continued Lack Of CJ

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

Judges at the ongoing annual conference in Entebbe have said they are hurting due to the persistent lack of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice.

The over 70 judges attending the four day conference compared the current top leadership vacuum to the sheep wondering without a shepherd.

It was Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine, who raised the hot issue in the Judiciary late last evening on behalf of judges attending the conference before asking them to pray so that they get a Chief Justice.

A similar call was reechoed by president of the Uganda Law Society Ruth Sebatindira, while making her presentation to the judges titled; ‘The Bar and Bench-partners in Justice’.

Ms Sebatindira who referred to the continued lack of Chief Justice and Deputy issue as a ‘big elephant in the conference room’, said as partners with the Judiciary in dispensing justice, they wish them well and that it’s not good to see them without top leadership for this long.

She added that as ULS, they take a stand to make their call to have the two top judiciary leadership slots filled up as soon as possible.

The country has since June 23 last year been without a substantive Chief Justice following the retirement of Justice Odoki on March 23 before serving out his three months extension till June 23 last year.

Similarly, the country has not had a substantive Deputy Chief Justice since March last year, following the death of the then Acting Deputy Chief Justice Constance Byamugisha.

Justice Steven Kavuma has since taken over both roles as Acting Chief Justice and Acting Deputy Chief Justice.

But in a bid to have the leadership vacuum filled, President Museveni in a July 9, 2013 letter addressed to the chairman JSC, Justice James Ogoola, directed that Mr Odoki be given a two year contract in order to maximise the services of human resource.

Justice Odoki’s re-appointment has since been met with resistance from different players who are up in arms including; Uganda Law Society, The East Africa Law Society, legislators, and academicians on grounds that his re-appointment is illegal as he has already attained the retirement age.

To that effect, Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga has gone to the Constitutional Court challenging President Museveni’s actions 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.

Parliament can’t go on and approve Justice Odoki as Chief Justice due to this pending constitutional petition.

The call by the judges for a new Chief Justice; comes barely a week after the England and Wales Law Society, added its voice on the chorus of voices urging President Museveni to name a new Chief Justice and rescind the ‘unconstitutional’ reappointment of retired Chief Justice Odoki back to the same position he held for the last 12 years.

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