The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Anti-Corruption Court Opens After Seven Months

The Constitutional court ruled on December 20 that the Anti-Corruption was legally constituted. Set up in 2009 by the then Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki, the court had been stopped in June, following a legal challenge by lawyer Davis Wesley Tusingwire, who argued that magistrates were serving in the court illegally.

However, the Constitutional court ruled by four to one, that magistrates were legally placed in the High court by Justice Odoki. Ruling for the majority, Justices Remmy Kasule, Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Lillian Tibatemwa and Solomy Balungi Bossa, agreed with the defence, that Odoki had the right to place magistrates in the High court.

"By deploying magistrates to the Anti-Corruption division of the High court, the Chief Justice [Odoki] did not thereby constitute them into High court judges.

Magistrates were expected and indeed have been discharging their functions in strict compliance with the jurisdictions vested in them... ," the majority judgment read in part.

Only acting Chief Justice Steven Kavuma dissented, insisting the Constitution did not provide for magistrates to serve in the High court. However, Tusingwire has indicated that he intends to appeal in the Supreme court.

Responding to the court ruling, the Anti-Corruption court registrar Fred Waninda, told The Observer, in a telephone interview, on Monday that they were ready to resume business at their Kololo premises.

"Every thing is set following the judgment... .The court will resume business next week and the cause list will be issued soon," Waninda said.

Waninda added that the Anti-Corruption court magistrates, previously transferred by Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine had all returned for duty.

"Our magistrates are back since the injunction was erroneous and they are ready to deliver justice," he said.

The magistrates include Irene Akankawsa (Chief Magistrate) and Sarah Langa Siu (Grade One), Dorothy Lwanga Ssempala and Michael Lagara.

Judgements to be delivered

When the court opens, it will deliver several pending judgments, including one for the former Local Government Permanent Secretary John Kashaka Muhanguzi. Muhanguzi is accused of causing financial loss to government worth Shs 4bn.

Others awaiting judgment include Henry Bamutura (principal accountant), Robert Mwebaze (principal procurement officer), Sam Emorut Erongot (assistant commissioner policy and planning), Timothy Musherure, and Adam Alum, in the same ministry.

The court will also deliver judgment against former National Forestry Authority (NFA) Executive Director, Damian Akankwasa, accused of causing financial loss of Shs 760m.

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