Justice Esther Kisaakye Kitimbo, a justice of the Supreme Court of Uganda, has fired back at Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary and secretary to the Judiciary, over his decision to block her salary.
In her response memo written on July 14 and received by the office of the permanent secretary/secretary to the judiciary on July 15, Kisaakye termed the contents in Bigirimana’s letter ‘baseless allegations’ and as an act of “the witch-hunting syndicate within and outside the judiciary.”
Justice Kisaakye said that in the memo, which was written on July 01 and received by on July 07, PS Bigirimana “made very serious allegations about me and my work, basing on undisclosed sources.”
She said she was surprised by the allegations and decisions made by Bigirimana and his alleged misinterpretation of the laws of Uganda. The judge also accused the PS of tarnishing her image.
“Basing yourself on the said allegations, you notified me about the decisions you had made and those you intend to make regarding my service to the nation, salary and other emoluments, if I did not meet your ultimatum,” wrote Justice Kisaakye.
“I am totally surprised and amazed that a person entrusted with your responsibility ignored clear Constitutional provisions and official records about my work, health and leave entitlements, all of which are readily available and accessible within: your office, my supervisor’s office, the officer of the commissioner, human resource in the judiciary, the Supreme Court of Uganda, the Medical Board, and which are also accessible nationally and internationally by members of the public and instead chose to tarnish my good name, reputation and record based on hearsay!”
She went on to say that she was not aware that the laws or guidelines had changed to grant Bigirimana powers to demand reports from a Supreme Court judge.
“I have honorably served my country for over 12 years as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Uganda since October 2009. I am the longest serving Justice of this Court and the most senior in ranking after the Chief Justice. Throughout my time of service, I have always adhered to the Constitution, Judicial Oath and all the laws of Uganda. Until I received your letter under reference, neither I, nor any other Justice of the Supreme Court has ever been required to report to the Secretary to the Judiciary /Permanent Secretary or to submit an individual report to your office, as you are now demanding of me,” Kisaakye stung.
“IF the law has recently been changed, I would be grateful if you could provide me with a copy thereof and/or the regulations requiring this Report and also copies of Reports submitted by my colleagues at the Court who have already complied with this new requirement, for information and my guidance.”
The Supreme Court Justice also denied claims that she had not informed her supervisor of her work and absence. She equally noted that the relevant offices were aware of her absence.
“Contrary to your baseless allegations, my supervisor has always been and is currently fully aware of my output since September 2021 and my subsequent absence from office, since I returned to the country,” further wrote Kisaakye.
“Similarly, my supervisor, yourself, the entire Judiciary leadership which you copied in your letter and the Commissioner, Human Resource, (whom you directly supervise), have all been fully aware that I took my deferred leave and my annual leave for 2021, in accordance with the law. The questions you are now asking me should be directed to the relevant judicial officers, who, for reasons best known to themselves, declined to execute their responsibilities and I cannot be blamed for their failure to do their work.”
The vocal judge also made it clear that Bigirimana had selectively read the provisions of the law, and further warned him against interfering with the independence of the judiciary.
To drive her point home, Kisaakye threw her academic CV in the letter to, perhaps, suggest that she was more versed with the law than Bigirimana.
“Please also note that your directives and intended actions contravene the Constitution of Uganda, which among others, entrenches all the tenets of judicial independence and the right to a fair hearing even to the lowest serving officer to the Judiciary, the entire public service, and to ALL persons. The provisions of the Constitution and the law that you cited in your letter do not warrant the selective reading of the Constitution or the discriminatory treatment my employer (the Judiciary of Uganda) is now subjecting me to,” she informed the Permanent Secretary to the Judiciary.
“Lastly, please further note that I hold, among others, the following qualifications: LLB (Hons. Upper Second Division, Makerere University (1981); LLM, Georgetown University, USA (1993); SJD (Doctorate in Law), American University, USA (2009). Therefore, my command of the law should not be in question,” she wrote in her hard hitting letter.
It should be remembered that at the start of July 2022, Pius Bigirimana explained what Justice Kisaakye, a pro-Bobi Wine judge, MUST do or forget about her salary. (Read Story Here).