The Uganda Law Society has warned lawyers and members of the public against ridiculing justices of the Supreme Court in the petition filed by the National Unity Platform leader, Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine challenging President Museveni’s election.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the ULS president Phiona Wall Nabasa said recent developments have seen advocates and members of the public make statements and gestures meant to ridicule the justices of the highest court in the land.
“The said advocates and members of the public have in addition to the criticism and ridicule of the court, continued to appear and discuss the matter directly under the adjudication before the court on various public fora, contrary to the subjudice rule,” Wall said in the statement.
According to the lawyers’ body, the independence of the judiciary has been attacked without due regard to Article 128(1) and (2) which emphasizes the independence of courts of law and that they shall not subject to any control or direction by any form of authority.
“It should be noted that Article 128(4) and 148 of the Constitution provide immunity to a judicial officer in the performance of their duty under judicial oath and empowers the Judicial Service Commission to carry out disciplinary action against judicial officers respectively.”
“We also urge the public to desist from undermining courts of law as they are a centre of adjudication and should they have any grievances against the court or any individual judicial officer, they should utilize lawful channels to address their grievances,” the Uganda Law Society president said.
The development comes on the backdrop of a concerned citizen who early this week petitioned the Law Council of Uganda over the conduct of lawyers presenting National Unity Platform and Robert Kyagulany in the 2021 election petition.
Mentioning Anthony Wameli, Medard Sseggona, Shamim Malende, Erias Lukwago, Muwadda Nkunyingi, Abdalla Kiwanuka and Asuman Basaalirwa, the concerned citizen told the law council that the lawyers made utterances that denigrated the integrity of the judiciary as well as blackmailing the justices of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo.
“These dirty, unprofessional and dangerous utterances have led to serious public disrespect of the Court and Supreme Court justices with many mimicking the judges in the amorphous court of the people,” Job Richard Mutua said in the petition also copied to the Attorney General and Uganda Law Society.
The Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny Dollo recently warned Kyagulanyi and his lawyers against blackmailing the Supreme Court and its justices who are handling the 2021 election petition.
“If anybody has issues to raise against the judges, court is the way to do it. If anyone thinks they can intimidate blackmail or induce with favours the Chief Justice, they are headed for a crash,”Dollo said.
“If you have no confidence in us, don’t bring your case here. If you have your plan B, we can’t stop you from applying it. There is a difference between political and judicial functions.”
Earlier, the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga had complained of what he termed as an orchestrated plan to disrespect the Supreme Court.
“It appears as an orchestrated scheme to bias and intimidate this court. This is the highest court in our land and respect should be accorded to it,”Byaruhanga said.
Kyagulanyi recently said in his application to withdraw the 2021 poll petition that he no longer has trust in the Supreme Court considering what he has gone through.
“After deeply reflecting upon the foregoing circumstances, I reached a decision that withdrawing the instant petition is the right thing to do since this court is not handling the petition with the independence, impartiality and equality I expected of it,”Kyagulanyi said in his affidavit.
Consequently, he announced that the court of public opinion would now adjudicate his polls petition.