There was drama in the Mubende High Court on Thursday as Justice Joseph Murangira’s bodyguard assumed his boss’ position to preside over court.
On Thursday the court presided over by Justice Murangira was scheduled to hear a case in which a group of more than 3000 people are protesting against their eviction from five villages including Kambuye, Kyabaana, Kikoono, Lwensanga and Kanseera in Mubende District by one George Kaweesi from a piece of land measuring 322.5 hectares with the help of police personnel.
When time for court reached the group of lawyers led by Eron Kiiza, Nicholas Opio and other advocates from the Network of Public Interest Lawyers representing the evictees were told by the judge’s bodyguard, only identified as Tusingwire that the judge who was in his chambers had sent him to tell court that the matter could not be heard on that day.
When the lawyers demanded to know the reason for court not to sit, they were told by the bodyguard that some of the complainants who are the primary applicants in the human rights enforcement suit that had caused the court gathering after the forceful eviction had not been produced to court despite their production warrants being signed on by the judge.
Pressed further for answers, the judge’s bodyguard told the lawyers in the court that had been filled to capacity that the state was not represented but was later reminded it was civil matter.
Meanwhile, the lawyers tried to access the judge’s chambers for a proper explanation as to why Justice Murangira had not showed up in court but their efforts were futile after they were blocked by the security guard.
Meanwhile, the judge’s guard directed them to the court’s registrar who on seeing the lawyers approach her chambers dashed into his vehicle and drove off.
On demanding to know when the next date for hearing of the matter was, the judge’s bodyguard told the lawyers that Justice Murangira has asked them to inquire for those details from the Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe.
The court session ended without both parties getting the next hearing date.
The drama comes at a time when the evictees wrote to the Chief Justice complaining of Justice Murangira’s biasness in the matter.
Through their lawyers, the locals complained against the judge saying he had allegedly sided with their tormentors adding that he had subsequently adopted a strange procedure compelling the victims of the land grabbing to file submissions before completion of the pleadings.
The Chief Justice early this week wrote to Justice Murangira to defend himself against the allegations labelled against him.
“I have received the attached complaint in which adverse comments/allegations have been made against you. Please give me your response on the allegations against you as to enable me respond to the complaints,”Katureebe wrote on Monday.
Justice Joseph Murangira is the Mubende resident High Court judge.