Members of Parliament on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee have accused Attorney General Peter Nyombi of frustrating the efforts to get a substantive Chief Justice (CJ).
Ndorwa East MP Wilfred Niwagaba asked AG Nyombi why he is insisting on appealing against the Constitutional Court ruling that declared the re-appointment of retired Chief Justice Benjmin Odoki unconstitutional.
Niwagaba told the AG today that his appeal will prolong the already dire situation the Judiciary is in adding that it was also reported in the media that Odoki is no longer interested in the position.
Shadow Attorney General Abdu Katuntu said that Nyombi doesn’t seem to appreciate the crisis that the Judiciary is facing by lacking the Chief Justice. Katuntu said it is not practical for Justice Steven Kavuma to act as the acting CJ saying that Justices of the Supreme Court look at him as a Junior Judge.
The Bugweri County MP accused Nyombi of not being passionate on the CJ issue as he is on other issues yet the CJ issue is more critical.
But Nyombi, who was appearing before the committee, said he recognises the importance of the matter adding that he isn’t standing in the way of the people concerned.
He said that his intention to appeal is not for Odoki’s sake but for the sake of clarity of the constitution and its provisions. He said that he actually wishes that the appeal is heard after a substantive CJ has been appointed.
But the committee was told that the Judicial Service Commission is in the process of recruiting a substantive CJ.
The commission’s chairman Justice James Ogoola told the MPs that there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel after two years without substantive heads of the Judiciary.
Ogoola said that after the constitutional court ruling on the matter, the commission met and kicked off a process of selecting eligible persons to recommend to the appointing authority for appointment.
Ogoola said that the situation is more dire than Katuntu depicted it when he said that the situation has left the judiciary without a head.
By lacking both the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice, Ogoola said the Judiciary lacks both the head and the neck adding that it is degenerating and needs to be addressed fast.
Positions of the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice fell vacant after Odoki clocked the constitutional retirement age of 70 in 2013 and Justice Leticia Kikonyogo retired in 2012.
Museveni in 2013 defied the recommendations of the Judicial Service Commission and opted to re-appoint Odoki but the constitutional court ruled at the beginning of this month that it was unconstitutional.