The circus surrounding the Kampala voters’ choice Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago run-ins with government continued to unfold this week with the High Court reasserting he is still in office but with government turning a deaf ear.
The Police force continues to maintain a big presence at City Hall in readiness for Lukwago’s forceful entry for purposes of reclaiming his mayoral seat in line with the court’s ruling.
Inside City Hall compound, cops armed with guns and anti-riot gear wake up each day to take positions in readiness to do battle with Lukwago’s supporters who dare storm City Hall to take back his office.
When boredom sets in with Lukwago not forthcoming, the cops resort to gambling by playing games such as playing cards and chess board (local version of Omweso) to while away time.
Outside City Hall, park police combat vehicles including tear gas Carriers. Cops armed to the tooth mount the patrol vehicles wearing mean and inquisitive faces. Police pickups patrol around the premises just to make sure Lukwago and his civilian army does not capture City Hall.
Seeing that Lukwago is destined to win in court, government is now resorting to tricks including ones mentioned above to keep him out of office–at least for longer.
The latest trick government has employed is to appeal whenever Lukwago lands court triumph or is about to do so. This is intended to buy time as Lukwago’s tenure as Lord Mayor runs out.
This is not a new phenomenon. It was employed with good political dividends against Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze. This was when Madam Teacher –as she is fondly called– filed a legal challenge against Rev Paul Bakaluba Mukasa’s election win. Each time, Nambooze won, the NRM preferred candidate Bakaluba would appeal until the matter reached Supreme Court.
Though Nambooze finally prevailed, Bakaluba had stayed in Parliament for close to four years and enjoyed allowances and other privileges that would have gone to Nambooze. Nambooze had to make do with only one year left on the five year term and paltry allowances the lion share having gone to the reverend.
Back to Lukwago. When the troubled Lord Mayor’s petition against his impeachment came for hearing recently, the Attorney General Peter Nyombi ambushed Justice Yasin Nyanzi with an application for him to quit the case.
The application ensured that the parties ‘wasted’ time arguing the merits and demerits of the same. At the end of which, the judge had to adjourn the case for a week, to give himself enough time to study the submissions for and against the application.
When Nyanzi finally read his ruling last Wednesday, turning down Nyombi’s request to him to step down from the case, the AG then asked the judge to delay the hearing till he has appealed his ruling.
Reading delaying tactics in the AG request, Lukwago’s legal team, led by Shadow Attorney General Abdu Katuntu appealed with Justice Nyanzi to disallow the application for an appeal to a higher court.
Alive to the fact that his critics would use his negative answer to argue he is inclining towards Lukwago as the AG had asserted, Nyanzi allowed the AG to proceed to test his ruling at the Appellant court.
In his unequivocal ruling, Justice Yasin Nyanzi said he still regarded Lukwago as the Kampala Lord Mayor until he has heard and finally pronounced himself on a petition the latter took to him challenging his (Lukwago’s) impeachment.
Nyanzi also tossed out AG Nyombi’s request that he steps down. Branding Nyombi a learned man who is not well grounded in law for a man who is head of the Bar in the country, Nyanzi suggested that the AG’s assertion that he (Nyanzi) would not be an impartial arbiter was a figment of his (AG’s) fertile imagination.
Alluding to the Judicial Oath he swore on being appointed a judge, Nyanzi said he undertook to serve all manner of man without favor or ill-will, going on to remind the AG that he in the past asked the Principal Judge to have him ( Nyanzi) quit the case, but the PJ turned down the request.
“The Attorney General is groping in legal darkness,” Nyanzi rebuked Nyombi whose representative at court immediately declared he would appeal the judge’s refusal to quit the case.
The above quote would serve to galvanize the Uganda Law Society decision to ban Nyombi for what the lawyers’ umbrella termed as his “illegal” opinions to the President on a wide range of issues.
In fact, Lukwago, himself a lawyer and his lawyers, including Shadow Attorney General Abdu Katuntu, immediately picked on the quote to proclaim it a “ a vote of confidence into the Uganda Law Society ban”.
Other law scholars, including the respectable retired Supreme Court Justice Dr George William Kanyeihamba have also come out to dismiss Nyombi’s opinions in regard to the re-appointment of retired Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki and the appointment of serving army officers as cabinet ministers.
Nyombi alive to the ULS ban implications on his future professional career and integrity, Nyombi has since petitioned the aConstitution Court for redress.
However, along the way, Nyombi asked the Constitutional court to stay the hearing of his petition as he talks to his learned colleagues under their umbrella for an amicable settlement of their differences in legal opinion approaches.
Kampala Minister Frank Tumwebaze rushed through an impeachment process in order to beat a court order that was stopping the exercise. During the impeachment process, majority KCCA councilors voted to have Lukwago impeached.
A Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire led Tribunal had found Lukwago impeachable on grounds of incompetence, among others, following a litany of complaints filed against the Lord Mayor’s administration style.
The impeachment would turn out to be an exercise in futility, after Justice Nyanzi issued an injunction stopping it. Though efforts- including physically manhandling Lukwago’s lawyer Abdul Kiwanuka and councilor Allan Ssewanyana were employed, Ssewanyana managed to serve the injunction on Minister Tumwebaze.
Tumwebaze would rubbish the injunction, dismissing it as a forgery. After the impeachment, Tumwebaze dispatched a sworn statement to Justice Nyanzi, claiming that there was no exercise to stop since the injunction reached the council after the impeachment had taken place.
Tumwebaze stance was supported by the AG Nyombi who claimed the injunction had been overtaken by events and asked court to dismiss Lukwago’s case against the way his sacking process was conducted.
Nyombi also faulted Justice Nyanzi for holding court before the official time (8.30 am) instead of the usual 9.00am. Nyombi read bias in favor of Lukwago in Nyanzi’s switching of the time at which courts normally sit to conduct business.