Court to Determine Odoki’s Fate as CJ Today

The Chief Justice Benjamin-Odoki
The Chief Justice Benjamin-Odoki

The Constitutional Court will this morning give its verdict on the controversial re-appointment of Benjamin Odoki as a Chief Justice despite clocking the mandatory retirement age of 70.

The highly anticipated judgment is based on a petition by Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga who argues that President Museveni’s decision to reappoint Justice Odoki back to the rudder of the Judiciary was unconstitutional.  It had initially been scheduled for last Monday which however coincided with a public holiday IDD-UL-FITR.

The judgment will be read by justices; Remmy Kasule, Eldad Mwangusya, Rubby Aweri Opio, Solomy Balangi Bossa and Prof. Lillian Tibatemwa.

Should court agree with the petitioner in this matter, then the re-appointment will be annulled and another candidate selected. On the contrary, Parliament will go ahead and swear-in Justice Odoki as the new Chief Justice for the next two years.

This high profile petition arose in August last year after President Museveni in a July 9, 2013 wrote to chairman of the Judicial Service Commission James Ogoola, directing that Benjamin Odoki be given a two-year contract in order to maximize the services of “our human resource.”

However, the reappointment was challenged in court by MP Karuhanga on grounds that it was unconstitutional because he had clocked the mandatory constitutional retirement age of 70 and was ineligible for the same post that he had held for twelve years.

The law maker also argues that the constitution does not provide for the re-appointment of a retired Chief Justice to the post of a substantive Chief Justice of Uganda.

He further accuses the President of not following the recommendations of the JSC that forwarded the name of Supreme Court Justice Bart Katureebe as the suitable candidate to replace Justice Odoki but the President instead re-appointed him, a move he says is unconstitutional.

This petition was heard one sided on June 16 as MP Karuhanga and his lawyers of GW Kanyeihamba and Co. advocates walked out of court protesting the re-constitution of a new panel to hear the petition.

The country has not had a substantive Chief Justice since March last year when Justice Odoki officially retired and the ensuing challenge against his reappointment.

Subscribe for notification