The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has taken offence with the manner in which a court order, barring Parliament from debating the Ugx 6 billion oil bonus payment to 42 government officials, was issued.
Deputy Chief Justice, Steven Kavuma, on January 9, 2017, issued an interim court order, stopping Parliament from debating a motion drafted by a number of MPs, seeking for a probe into the payments.
While speaking to MPs during the plenary sitting, which resumed on January 18, 2017, Kadaga wondered why a judicial officer would grant an interim order without establishing any grounds to do so.
“What is the locus standi of Sabiiti? He is a man just walking on the street and then he develops some delusions that something is about to happen. He goes and writes some complaints; he is able to take it to court in a few minutes, file, hearing, ruling that was the urgency and on what did he base the application for an injunction? Was it a proposed resolution of this house? Was it an order paper? That is his mind and based on his mind, the judge says I believe what is in your head and therefore issues an injunction…so what constitutes a constitutional petition?” Kadaga questioned.
Last week, Kadaga directed that Parliament committees and plenary sittings are suspended until the court order is vacated from court. Sabiiti later withdrew the petition.
While acknowledging the efforts of the Attorney General’s office, Kadaga stated that the issuance of the interim court order, which barred Parliament from discussing the “presidential handshake”, should have been expunged by Justice Kavuma himself.
“Your interpretation of the effect of the withdrawal is not in consonance with my understanding of the law. There was a specific order which I asked you to vacate, the order not the petition,” Kadaga stated.
In response, DAG explained that the court granted an interim order, which was, together with the petition, eventually withdrawn by the petitioner.
“The order withdrawn says that the petitioner has lost interest in pursuing the petition and all resultant applications. This is the order of court,” Mwesigwa said, while laying before Parliament the withdraw order.
Shadow Attorney General, Wilfred Niwagaba however wondered why the Attorney General’s office did not consult with Parliament when the petitioner served his office with the interim order.
“Since the proceedings in the Constitutional Court were attended by your own representative as a state attorney, whether you have sought and found it prudent that next time a matter involving Parliament before the AG goes to court, he seeks input from the institution he will be representing and if not whether it is not prudent that we move to amend the Government Proceedings Act and detach you from representing Parliament,” Niwagaba suggested.
Mwesigwa, in defence, told the House that the Attorney General co-signed a consent form to the withdrawal by Sabiiti, meaning that the case is not registered anywhere in the Constitutional Court.
Kadaga asked the Attorney General to inform the Judiciary that no one can casually take away the constitutional right of this Parliament.
“This is what the Judge purported to do, stop Parliament, stop everybody else from inquiring including the IGG, Auditor General…that is the effect of that order. So please inform them that this kind of extremism is not good for this country,” Kadaga said.