On Monday afternoon, the judiciary announced the unfortunate passing on of Wilson Tsekooko, a retired justice of the Supreme Court of Uganda.
The retired judge died at Norvik Hospital in Kampala where he had been admitted a few weeks ago battling cancer of the prostate.
Annuls Museveni victories
In 2001, President Museveni won the presidential elections after garnering 5,123,360 votes that represented 69.33% against his closest rival, Dr.Kizza Besigye’s 27.82%.
The latter petitioned the Supreme Court seeking to annul the election but in the resultant three to two majority judgment, the court threw out the petition.
Among the two minority judges who ruled to have the election annulled was Justice Wilson Tsekooko.
Five years later, Museveni again won the 2006 presidential elections with a percentage of 59.22 whereas the runners up, Dr.Kizza Besigye polled 37.36% of the votes.
Besigye once again petitioned the Supreme Court to annul the election as having been marred with irregularities but in the resultant four to three majority decision, court upheld Museveni’s victory.
However, Justice Tsekooko was one of the three minority judges who ruled to annul Museveni’s 2006 victory.
“On the basis of the evidence before me and for the reasons, I have set forth herein, I was satisfied that the petitioner (Besigye) established his allegations. I hold that the petitioner’s prayers should be granted. I annul the election and order a rerun,”Tsekooko said in his judgment.
In an interview with theObserver newspaper in 2018, Tsekooko said of his decision to annul President Museveni’s victories his 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court presidential election petition rulings that he was ‘too independent to be influenced by Museveni.
“When one is appointed a judge, he/she takes an oath and is supposed to live by that oath to uphold the truth. It is those judges who just want to get money and benefits who can make decisions according to the whims of the time or fear, but for me when I was judge, I would make decisions regardless of the consequences,” the judge said in an interview with the Observer.
He urged fellow judges to always behave properly but also act in accordance with the dictates of the law or else they will not live freely in society.
“If you become undisciplined, then you can’t enjoy the benefits of having belonged to a free society. So, the law should stipulate the terms of a judge. Proper conduct for a judge is very important.”
In an earlier interview with the Daily Monitor newspaper, Tsekooko said the number of cadre judges making it to the bench is rising, a thing he said is undermining the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
“Yes, that thing [cadre judges] is there. It seems to be increasing because occasionally you get some of the judgments and you can’t understand they are from judges who are supposed to be independent. There are rumours some judges consult some politicians when they have cases with political implications to get a shape of the ruling. This is terrible! It is not proper,” Justice Tsekooko told Daily Monitor.
By “cadre judges” he meant judges whose case judgments suggest they are determined more by their allegiance to the government than on the evidence produced before courts during the trial.
In a tweet on Monday, Dr.Kizza Besigye mourned the death of a law icon whom he said will always be missed.
“He was a giant of a jurist, with his integrity and honour. You set the pace. Fare thee well,”Besigye posted on his Twitter account.