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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Justice Esther Kisakye stings fellow Supreme Court judges, State in dissenting judgement

Justice Esther Kisakye of the Supreme Court blamed fellow judges and the state for making National Unity Platform (NUP) leader Robert Kyagulanyi aka withdraw his presidential election petition.

Bobi Wine, who came second in the January 14 presidential election, had challenged President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s election in the Supreme Court, the highest in the land.

But he later withdrew his petition and referred it to the ‘public court’ over alleged bias on the side of judges, as well as refusal by eight justices — with Kisakye dissenting — to allow him file more affidavits, and revise his petition to introduce new grounds.

SUPREME COURT DRAMA

On March 18, drama ensued in the Supreme Court in Kampala when eight justices of the highest court in the land walked out on Kisakye.

Kisakye had insisted on delivering her minority ruling on the withdrawal of Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine’s petition.

But she could not locate her ruling file.

Her colleagues walked out on her, power and the public address system were switched off.

She accused CJ Owiny Dollo of ordering the confiscation of her ruling file, switching off of power and public address system, and commanding his colleagues to walk out on her.

She also explained why she defied Owiny-Dollo.

Judiciary spokesperson Solomon Muyita sought to blame Kisakye for ‘breaking’ the rules.

But the defiant Kisakye had gone ahead to deliver her minority (dissenting) ruling before Bobi Wine’s lawyers and reporters.

Justice Kisakye agreed with Bobi Wine’s lawyers that the circumstances for the NUP leader were unusual — from siege on his home, security deployment at party offices and arrest of supporters (and/or witnesses.

She argued that it was wrong for her eight colleagues to agree with Attorney General William Byaruhanga’s and Museveni’s lawyers that strict timelines be followed as is the case for presidential election petitions.

Kisakye opined that even if the determination of presidential petitions was expected within 45 days, it was wrong to ignore the fact that even the High Court had ruled that Bobi Wine’s house arrest and detention were illegal.

“The restrictions on the movements of the applicant as pleaded in his affidavit and as confirmed by High Court more than constituted the special circumstances which were envisaged under rule 17 of the Presidential Election Rules,” the judge submitted.

That her fellow eight justices ignored a 2016 precedent where the same court allowed Amama Mbabazi to file additional evidence.

Kisakye further faulted Museveni’s lawyers for fighting to deny Bobi Wine a chance to present witnesses.

“The respondent disputed the evidence that some of the applicant’s witnesses were locked up and contended that the applicant should have produced the list of witnesses who are in prison and that since they did not produce it they stated that the evidence should not be believed,” ruled Kisakye.

“With due respect to submissions of counsel for the respondent I found no merit in their contention. The applicant knows his witnesses from whom he needed statements and evidence and where he needed to access them to obtains evidence to bring to court in support of his application….the respondents had no basis to dispute the applicant’s claims.”

The judge further blamed her fellow justices for seeking to punish Bobi Wine for the failure on the part of his lawyers to submit evidence on time.

“The applicant’s Counsel was not able to deliver all the evidence in the time prescribed for a variety of reasons some of which were submitted by Counsel Sseggona,” she said.

“By the majority attributing the mistakes of counsel to the client the court was reversing its decisions without giving reasons.”

Kisakye also faulted the state security agencies for helping incumbent President Museveni have an advantage over Bobi Wine.

“The first respondent is the incumbent president. He has been in power for 35 years with an established party structure which is in place and which has not suffered any disruptions or closures as were suffered by the applicant’s party at the expense of the State organs.”

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