Uganda: Justice Musene's Forced Leave Causes Uproar

Litigants of Soroti High Court are up in arms following the sending of Justice Wilson Masalu Musene on forced leave, a few months to his retirement.

Justice Musene has been the Soroti Resident Judge.

They say he has not been allowed to complete cases that were in advanced stages with some pending judgment.

"Strange and disturbing things are happening at Soroti High Court after a judge heard 107 cases in the year 2020 and he was due to deliver judgments/ruling on them when he was sent on forced leave and now they want to bring in a new judge to handle such cases that are in advanced stages..." one of the litigants, Mr Moses Omiat, said at the weekend.

"To date, there has been no official communication from court to the numerous litigants whose cases, judgments and rulings were being written with even dates of delivery given, but have since passed and nothing is being done to serve us justice," he added.

In May, the Principal Judge, Dr Flavian Zeija, sent Justice Musene on forced leave.

He was not allowed to finish up his three months extension given to all judges upon retirement to complete any pending work, a move that saw him leave without completing 109 files.

Mr Omiat, whose land matter has taken over five years in the court system, adds that as litigants, they are hearing rumuors that the head of the High Court is now looking for new judges to complete their pending cases.

As an administrator of the estate of the late Amollo George, Mr Omiat is tussling it out with Serere District local government over a 150-acre piece of land in Kasilo Village, Kamod Parish, which he claims the district has trespassed on.

Some of the other affected case files include Oyollo Rosemary Akech Vs Okello Francis, pending ruling, Merabu Adekur and five others Vs John Kokas Ojulong, pending judgment, Otim Richard Vs Alupo Bernadette and another, pending ruling, Okello Nicholas Vs Odunge Stephen, pending ruling, and Rock Trust Contractors Vs Soroti Municipal Council.

Others are Atim Grace and Another Vs Omoding Hannington, pending judgment, Edukut David and Another Vs the registered Trustees of Church of Uganda, Kumi Dioceses, pending ruling, and Ocen Kassima Vs Soroti District Land Board.

In May, Dr Zeija wrote a letter to the registrar of Soroti High Court, Mr Godfrey Ngobi Ssalaamu, seeking to have some of the files that were handled by Justice Musene sent to Kampala.

In a May 20 response, Mr Ssalaamu wrote back to the Principal Judge informing him that he had managed to prepare 86 case files out of the 107.

"You required me to forward files pending judgment/ ruling before Hon Justice Wilson Musene. Subsequently, I got guidance from the registrar of the High Court that he said files ought to have typed proceedings before they are forwarded. I have since had 86 files typed leaving the balance of 21 yet to be typed," Mr Ngobi wrote to the Dr Zeija.

Efforts to get a comment from Dr Zeija by press time were futile. However the Chief Registrar, Ms Sarah Langa Siu, said: "All the matters will be concluded to their logical end. We request for calm among the parties."

She also declined to comment on Justice Musene's issue saying the same matter is before the East African Court of Justice.

Justice Musene officially retired on March 6, after clocking 65 years, however, the Constitution allows him three more extra months to wide up any pending chamber work.

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