The Chief Justice Bart Katureebe has written to Justice Joseph Murangira asking him to defend himself on allegations of allowing trying to bundle up a case in which 3000 people were evicted from five villages in Mubende district.
Through their lawyers of Kiiza and Mugisha Advocates, a group of 24 people last week petitioned the Chief Justice complaining over the manner in which Murangira is handled the land matter in which they were evicted from a piece of land.
However, in a letter dated July 8, 2019, the Katureebe has acknowledged receipt of the complaint before asking the judge to defend himself in the matter.
“I have received the attached complaint in which adverse comments or allegations have been made against you. Please give me your responses on the allegations against you so as to enable me respond to the complaints,” Katurebe wrote in the letter to Murangira, also copied to the Principal Judge, the Secretary Judicial Service Commission, the Mubende High Court Registrar and lawyers from Kiiza and Mugisha Advocates.
The judge’s problems stem from a case in which police led by the Mubende DPC, Martin Okoyo following a court order evicted five villages with over 3000 people after being moved by one George Kaweesi who claims ownership over the said land.
Following the unlawful eviction, some of the occupants on the land were arrested by police before being remanded to Kweri prison in Mubende district.
However, last week, when lawyers went to the prison to get sworn affidavits from three people jailed over the said land in regards to a civil suit before Mubende High Court seeking for compensation and to be reinstated on the contested land, they were nowhere to be seen raising concern.
It was later found out that Grace Nantubiro(a councillor for Busaale ward), Ronald Mugwabya( councilor for Kaweri ward) and Focus Mugisha( secretary for Kawula LC1) had been moved from Kweri to Katojo and Muinaina prisons in Fort Portal and Mubende respectively.
In a letter dated July 3, 2019, the evictees accuse Justice Murangira of siding with their tormentors to keep some of them in prison so they cannot follow up on the matter.
“On Tuesday, July 2, 2019, Justice Murangira adopted strange procedure that compels the applicants to file submissions before the completion of pleadings and before conferencing,” reads in part the complaint to the Chief Justice.
In light of the contents of the aforesaid complaints, our clients believe that no justice can ensue for as long as Justice Murangira is the presiding judge in the above captioned application.”
The lawyers also asked the Chief Justice to re-allocate the matter to another “impartial” judge, direct Justice Murangira not to proceed with the matter in any event or transfer the hearing of the matter to the High Court in Kampala.
The lawyers in their letters to the Chief Justice and the Mubende High Court registrar insist that Justice Joseph Murangira is biased and cannot be allowed to take part in the matter because of the same.
Justice Murangira was in 2017 transferred from Kampala to Mubende High Court.
In October 2018, the chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into Land matters, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire said many Ugandans have been rendered homeless due to rampant illegal land evictions aided by judicial officers.
“On a more catastrophic note, the orders, rulings and judgments have entrenched a sense of helplessness for thousands of poor persons who don’t believe that institutions of the government can protect their rights on land. This bears implications on matters of peace and tranquility on land in various areas,”Bamugemereire said during a press conference.
“Notably, the manner in which the orders, rulings and judgments are arrived at indicates a grand level of ‘cartelization’ between government officers that allows the issuance of titles, no objection approvals and other such facilitating documents.”