Third Panel Starts Hearing MP Kato Lubwama’s Election Petition Afresh

  • by Rodney Mponye
  • July 21, 2020

A new panel of Court of Appeal Justices has started hearing afresh an application by Lubaga South Legislator, Kato Lubwama seeking to block his voter Habib Buwembo from filing a petition for his dismissal from parliament for lack of the requisite academic qualifications.

The new panel comprises Justices Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Irene Mulyagonja and Elizabeth Musoke. It was constituted by the Acting Chief justice Alfonse Owiny–Dollo after the legal teams of both parties declined to receive a judgment by Justice Cheborion in May 2019.

The judgment stemmed from an application by Lubwama through his lawyers from Alaka and company Advocates challenging a 2017 decision by High Court Judge Margaret Oumo Oguli allowing Buwembo to file a petition challenging his election after the expiry of the 30 day mandatory period.

The application was first heard by a panel comprising the former Deputy Chief, Justice Steven Kavuma, Hellen Obura and Cheborion Barishaki in 2017. However, the matter dragged on as Buwembo through his lawyers led by Isaac Ssemakadde asked Kavuma to step down from the matter due to alleged judicial misconduct.

Kavuma declined to step down from the matter and went on to retire in August 2017 before the matter could be concluded. A second panel comprising Justice Alfonse Owiny -Dollo, Hellen Obura and Cheborion Barishaki was constituted to hear the matter.

However, before the hearing could be concluded, Justice Cheborion showed up in court in May 2019 with a judgment, which was rejected by both parties. The legal representatives of the warring parties told court that they were unwilling to receive the judgment since the matter hadn’t been heard fully.

The parties also told court that they hadn’t been informed about Kavuma’s replacement on the panel. They petitioned the Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo demanding an explanation as to why Barishaki had come up with a Judgment in a matter, whose hearing was never concluded.

According to Ssemakadde, Owiny-Dollo invited them to his chambers where he informed them that he had never appended his signature on the judgment, saying anything like that would be forgery amounting to judicial misconduct.

It is upon this background that a new panel has been instituted to hear the matter.  Yesterday morning, the three Justices directed the parties to file written submissions before end month, saying Judgment will be delivered on notice.