Makerere Students Drag M7 to Court over University Closure
By Serestino Tusingwire
Six Makerere University students have filed a case against President Museveni challenging his 1st November, 2016 directive to close the University indefinitely.
The university was closed following academic staff strike over incentive arrears amounting to Shs28 billion that had accumulated since February this year.
Suing the President in his capacity as the ‘Visitor of Makerere University,’ the six law students led by Sam Ssekyewa accuse Museveni of abusing his powers and exceeding his jurisdiction when he “arbitrarily, irrationally and improperly took the drastic and draconian action of closing the university unceremoniously and indefinitely without evidence that the protection of our rights necessitated the impugned directive”.
The students claim that the effect of the immediate removal of students from campus as well as its indefinite closure is to deprive students of their right to access higher education in a just, free and democratic society.
The students are being represented by Isaac Ssemakadde of Centre for Legal Aid.
“In the performance of his executive powers, President Museveni was oath-bound to respect, uphold and promote autonomy of the university as an institution, the supremacy of the University Council, as well as the fundamental human rights and freedoms of Makerere students. Instead, he disregarded these obligations,” claims Ssekyeewa.
Sued together with the president is Makerere itself as well as the Attorney General.
Makerere University Council is faulted for rubber stumping the president’s orders and failing to perform its statutory duties when it “mechanically submitted to and operationalized the president’s ‘midnight directive’ without applying their mind to the situation and asserting the university’s autonomy as it was required to do, indicating an embarrassing failure to perform its duties.
On his part, the Attorney General is sued for the actions of “machine-gun-toting” security operatives led by the Inspector General of Police Kale Kaihura who “used cruel, inhuman and degrading methods” to implement the impugned directive.
The six students; Ssekyewa, Mushime Moses, Kibombo Francis, Nabatanzi Cissy, Kanyesigye Emmanuel and Turyakira Robert want Court to declare that the president’s directive and the university’s implementation of the same are unlawful and unjustified.
They want Court to quash the president’s directive and resolutions of the University Council to implement it; and compel the university to announce a re-opening date.