Last Sunday, New Vision sought my opinion on senior aocate Peter Mulira’s letter to the learned Lord Chief Justice Bart Katureebe on corruption in the Uganda Judiciary. Mulira was mourning the reported and proven rampant corruption in the Judiciary.
Mulira’s letter was copied to President Museveni. I have occasionally disagreed with Mr Mulira on some legal issues and their interpretations.
On this occasion, however, I am in total agreement with him. The evidence exposing corruption cases, partiality and biased or corrupt judgments by judges, judicial officers and clerks is heavier than all the crude oil in South Arabia.
President Museveni himself knows most of the serious offences in the Judiciary but chooses to utilise them for political aantage.
The Speaker of Parliament knows about it but politically ignores it because she has hidden the petition in her inner chambers and failed to organise the debate murk that has eaten into the very souls of judges, registrars and magistrates.
Retired Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki was deeply aware and often spoke about it but failed to act or combat it effectively.
The newly appointed Chief Justice is painfully aware of how destructive of justice it is and that is why all Ugandans are anxiously waiting for the execution of his public promise to fight it successfully or else.
Many of us who admire the courage Justice Katureebe has demonstrated elsewhere will be bitterly disappointed if he fails to show soon that he is dead serious.
Very recently and in earnest, and publicly, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, described it as a cancer in Uganda which needs to be removed surgically.
He recently named the most corrupt of the judges, including the dearest and closest to his own party’s leadership.
The chairperson and members of the Judicial Service Commission have received many accusatory reports from members of the law society and the public about the same. Other accusatory reports have come from Members of Parliament and public institutions naming judges and judicial officers who are unworthy to hold judicial offices of their respective posts.
The catalogue of grave offenders stretches in the Judiciary to the pinnacle. The learned and often brave Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine, has often and publicly spoken against and condemned this crippling epidemic in the Judiciary.
Very recently, this columnist was moved to tears when he personally witnessed the brutal assault on the proper and constitutional administration of justice in the Constitutional Court, reminiscent of Jesus Christ chasing a gang of gamblers from the Holy Temple which they were defiling.
This columnist watched the corrupt and wretched of the Judiciary flee away from the premises of the temple of constitutional justice as if they had seen the revenging angel of the Lord. No one has flushed them.
Out for punishment some years ago, a sister temple, the High Court of Uganda, had been vandalised by soldiers apparently with the knowledge and encouragement of members of the Executive and its untrained brutal forces.
Rape of the temple of justice
The then Principal Judge James Ogoola condemned the event as tantamount to the rape of the temple of justice. However, he now appears to have joined the harem of judicial eunuchs. Justice Ogoola has deliberately chosen not to say anything or corroborate with those who are hunting down the scourge of judicial corruption and abuse of office.
On the other hand, privately he and all the other members of the Judicial Service Commission, including the elected representatives of the Uganda Law Council, admit that some of the recent decisions, comments and appointments in Cabinet and the Judiciary are unconstitutional, dishonest and unlawful.
Ugandans then ask the whole establishment of the legal fraternity those questions “why have you failed us or did you eat the forbidden fruit?”
Prof Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court judge.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor