Uganda: Show Seriousness, Chief Justice Tells Mbabazi Lawyers

The Chief Justice Bart Katureebe has tasked the legal team of independent presidential candidate, Amama Mbabazi to with immediate effect serve court with the affidavits and names of the witnesses to their election petition.

At the pre-hearing of the election petition before the Supreme court today morning, a visibly upset Katureebe said that it was clear that Mbabazi's legal team is diverting court from hearing the petition and rather taking them back to things that would have been filed earlier enough.

Katureebe said court is concerned since the petitioners had ten days to file the petition, affidavits and names of witness from the date when the presidential elections were declared. He says in the maintain petition under Paragraph 35, Mbabazi's legal team stated that the affidavits and names of the witnesses were attached in annexure A, and that additional affidavits would be filed later.

He said court gave latitude to the petitioner by allowing the amended petition, but the petitioners are now taking court right, left and center, saying there is neither a sign of affidavits nor list of witnesses. Justice Katureebe also noted that there is no way court can determine whether Mbabazi's witnesses were picked by security as alleged.

"There is no way we can know the truth because we have no data to refer to in the petition to know that the witnesses are being arrested or harassed like Mbabazi's team claims," he said.

He asked Mbabazi's legal team to go an "extra mile" and to show "seriousness" in the petition, which he says isn't evident as of now. Katureebe said the lawyers can't use yesterday's break-ins in their offices as an excuse because the affidavits were supposed to have been filed on Monday - three days before. The chief justice however noted that if anybody is being harassed by security agencies, this should be followed up by the Attorney General and the culprits be brought to book.

He also noted that if any of the lawyers involved in the case is accused of misconduct, the lawyer's council should take note and take action after the hearing based on the recommendations from the Supreme court.

His statements came after the deputy attorney general Mwesigwa Rukutana told court that the allegations made by Mbabazi's legal team in the previous session on Monday about the alleged arrest of their witnesses were false, malicious and unfounded. He said inquiries show that no one mentioned before the court was arrested.

Rukutana also noted that he wouldn't be surprised that the alleged breaking into the chambers of Mbabazi's lawyers was a hoax that was stage-managed and was an inside job that was intended to buy time and draw sympathy from court and public or a cover-up for some gaps.

Didas Nkurunzinza, one of Museveni's lawyers, said despite court's directive to Mbabazi's team to provide them with affidavits by close of business on Monday this week nothing was done, adding that this was way before the alleged break-in was reported.

He said that it is their submission that the petitioner "isn't serious" and is "discourteous" to the court. He prayed that the petitioner be admonished and made to properly conduct himself. The same sentiments were echoed by Enos Tumusiime, the Electoral Commission lawyer, who said that until now, he hasn't been served with copies of the amended election petition.

In response, Asuman Basalirwa, the lawyer of Mbabazi insisted that their witnesses had been arrested, adding that after reporting to court and the follow up by the attorney general, they were transferred to Jinja road and Nalufenya police stations, where they were later released on Tuesday this week.

On the failure to file affidavits, Michael Akampurira, another lawyer of Mbabazi said it was very unfortunate for the defense team to claim that they stage-managed the break-ins in their chambers saying they have nothing absolutely to gain from such an act.

He said the break-in at Muwema and Company advocates saw 100 affidavits being stolen. He however, notified court that they have tried within their means to ensure that they assemble some affidavits.

He dismissed claims that they unserious and discourteous to court. Akampurira told court that he had instructed one of his partners to file the affidavits by close of Monday as directed by court, but he didn't know why it wasn't done.

Source All Africa