City lawyer Male Mabirizi has started the process seeking to remove the current Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo from office due to alleged misconduct and incompetence.
Mabirizi started the process on Tuesday with his petition to the Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission, a constitutional body charged with appointing judicial officers and regulating their conduct.
He contends that during the Presidential Election Petition of former Presidential Candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, Owiny-Dollo committed misbehavior and incompetence thereby committing offenses against discipline in as far as the regulations of the Judicial Service Commission are concerned.
Mabirizi states that despite being a former Advocate of President Yoweri Museveni who was listed as the first respondent in Kyagulanyi’s petition, Owiny-Dollo went ahead to preside over the proceedings in the case.
According to Mabirizi this was even after he had written to him (Chief Justice) asking him to recuse but he went ahead and determined Kyagulanyi’s application seeking more time to file additional evidence to the petition before determining the recusal application.
The evidence submitted to the Judicial Service Commission also indicates that the Chief Justice then dismissed Mabirizi’s recusal application without reasons on February 23 2021.
It also indicates that on March 1 2021, Mabirizi filed an application seeking to stay all the proceedings in Kyagulanyi’s petition until final determination of his case before the East African Court of Justice which is challenging Owiny- Dollo’s decision for failing to recuse himself from the case.
But according to Mabirizi, Owiny-Dollo did not even share this copy of the application to his fellow justices on the panel, refused to fix it and later on the same day, he fixed the withdrawal of the petition which was heard and granted on March 5 2021, when his application for stay of proceedings was still pending.
“Owiny-Dollo is a time bomb to Uganda, he has turned Supreme Court into a ‘Judicial Deals House’ where Justice is perverted through fraudulent and illogical actions and decisions thereby defeating Uganda People’s Interests and Aspirations”, reads Mabirizi’s petition in part.
Mabirizi now wants the Judicial Service Commission to advise the President to appoint a tribunal such that it can quickly remove the Chief Justice from office.
The Spokesperson of Judicial Service Commission Maria Theresa Nabulya has told URN that they have officially received the case and that such complaints of Judicial Officers above the High Court level require a full nine-member Commission to sit and look into them. Nabulya adds that the Secretary to the Commission is the one who introduces such complaints to the Commission led by Justice Benjamin Kabito.
According to Article 144 of the Constitution, a Judicial officer may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his or her office arising from infirmity of the body or mind, misbehavior or misconduct or incompetence.
The same law shows that there will be a tribunal appointed which will recommend to the president that the judicial officer be removed from office on one or more of the said four grounds.
Then the question whether the removal of that judicial officer should be investigated shall be referred to the President by either the Judicial Service Commission or the Cabinet with advice that the President should appoint a tribunal to look into the matter.
The law adds that if the Tribunal advises the President that the Judicial Officer be suspended, then the President will have no option but to suspend that official from performing the functions of his or her office.
Mabirizi’s petition arises from the recent withdrawn presidential election petition by Kyagulanyi who wanted to overturn Museveni’s January 14th victory from the general elections on grounds that he had committed several electoral offenses.
During the proceedings, Mabirizi who was not a party to the case asked Owiny-Dollo to step aside from the case arguing that he was partial having been Museveni’s lawyer in 2006 during the Dr Kiiza Besigye Presidential Election Petition.
But Owiny-Dollo declined to step down from the case, forcing Mabirizi to improvise several means aimed at challenging is decision to stay in the case. He has since gone to the East African Court of Justice to challenge it.