A group of activists has petitioned the Principal Judge, Flavian Zeija over a recent ruling in regards Bugoma Forest Central Reserve by the Civil Division of the High Court.
Justice Musa Ssekaana of the High Court in Kampala earlier this month threw out an application for a temporary injunction sought by Water and Environment Media Network Limited in which they wanted the court to halt the implementation of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment certificate issued by NEMA allowing Hoima Sugar Limited to grow sugarcane in the disputed Bugoma forest.
However, in the petition to the Principal Judge, the activists say they are concerned by the impropriety of the judge in handling the matter and subsequent dismissal of the application.
“The ruling for was scheduled for October 2 ,2020, but it was deferred to an unknown date with-out official communication to the parties. This anomaly, and to our surprise continued when we learnt of the ruling circulating on various social media accounts and the press,” the activists say.
“As if that is not enough, on October,7, 2020, the ruling was shared at 8:00 am by one Sheila Nduhukire, a spokesperson for Hoima Sugar Ltd an entity that occupies the land in question but was not a party to the suit. The said ruling was later shared at 10:00 am by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), the respondent in the matter on their tweeter page before the applicants had received any copy.”
The group says it was not 4pm the same day that the said ruling was availed to the parties involved in the case, yet the same had earlier been shared to Hoima Sugar Limited which is not a party to the case.
“It is extremely strange, unbecoming and unprofessional for a judicial officer or anyone in the judiciary to share a court decision to persons not a party to a case before the parties themselves receive such a decision.”
The activists say in their petition to the Principal Judge that in the ruling of the High Court that there was a flawed interpretation of the law by Justice Ssekaana noting that they suspect some foul play.
“We suspect the said ruling was either not written by the judicial officer it purports to have come from or the said judicial officer in question was well acquainted with the matter at hand and thus came to wrong decisions. Our efforts to access a signed copy of the ruling is in vain as the judicial officer has not accorded us an opportunity to get a copy since the emailed copy has no signature appended to it.”
The activists want the Principal Judge to intervene and ensure their application for a judicial review and appeal for injunction are heard and determined with the urgency they deserve but also by another independent journalist