The England and Wales Law Society has added its voice to the choruses urging President Yoweri Museveni to name a new Chief Justice and rescind the reappointment of retired Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki
The body is the professional association that represents the solicitors’ profession in England and Wales.
The Society’s Human Rights Committee in a letter dated January 23 to President Museveni, pointed out the need for him to follow the 1995 constitution and appoint a new Chief Justice.
Professor Sara Chandler, chair of the Human Rights Committee, says ‘the Law Society urges President Museveni to comply with the Ugandan constitution and select one of the persons whose names have been submitted by the Judicial Service Commission for consideration.
“Adhering to these processes will guarantee compliance with Uganda’s constitution, ensure the maintenance of the independence of the judiciary in Uganda and show respect for the nation’s judges and uphold the rule of law,” the letter reads in part.
Justice Odoki, clocked the retirement age of 70 on 23 March last year before serving a three-month extension until 23 June.
According to the Ugandan constitution, a new chief justice must be appointed by the president acting on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission and with the approval of parliament. in the cas eif Justice Odoki, the Judicil service commission are on record as stating his reappointment was unlawful.
However, President Museveni in a July 9, 2013 letter addressed to the chairman the judicial service commission, Justice James Ogoola, directed that Odoki be granted a two year contract in order to maximize the services of our human resource.
The President also directed that three other retired Supreme Court justices; John Wilson Tsekooko, Christine Kitumba and Gildino Okello be recalled to the Bench and indeed they have reported for duty.
Justice Odoki’s re-appointment has since been met with resistance from different players. Notable among them is the Uganda Law Society, The East Africa Law Society, legislators, and academicians. They all contend that the re-appointment is illegal and unconstitutional.
The call by the England and Wales Law Society comes at a time when Judges have indicated that they will shun attending the annual judges’ conference scheduled to start tomorrow in Entebbe and the opening of the Law Year on Friday due to the absence of a substantive Chief Justice.