It was July 26, 2018 when the Constitutional Court sitting in the eastern town of Mbale, by majority judges upheld the amendment to the constitution that scrapped the presidential age limit.
On the same day, the court also declared as null and void the amendment extending from five to seven-year term in office for Members of Parliament and other elected political leaders.
The judges who were on the bench included Cheborion Barishaki, Remmy Kasule, Alfonse Owiny-Dolo, Kenneth Kakuru and Elizabeth Musoke.
However, in August, one of the petitioners Kassim Male Mabirizi filed a memorandum of appeal at the Supreme Court in which he challenged parts of the constitutional court judgment. In his petition, Mr Mabirizi raised 16 grounds where he believed that the learned Justices erred in law while making their judgment.
The appeal was heard on January 16, 2019 and the law of the land require that the judgment on any case should be delivered within 60 days.
But for this particular case it has been long overdue, a factor that forced Mabirizi to write to the Supreme court over the delayed judgment.
In a letter issued last month, the controversial lawyer contended that the delay has created loopholes that have been manipulated by some political players like President Yoweri Museveni who has been declared as a sole presidential candidate for the NRM party yet his candidature is one of the grounds being contested in the appeal.
He said the delayed judgment has frustrated his efforts to get the justice that he has been longing for since the Constitutional court also did the same thing when it delayed the same judgment at Mbale.
“I am no longer interested in the pending judgment, the only thing I want are reasons from court to why the delay and this is where I will start from to base my complaint to higher jurisdictions,” stated Mabirizi.
In response, the Supreme Court Deputy Registrar Godfrey Opifeni told Mabirizi in a letter that, “This is to inform you that the judgment in the said appeal is being processed by justices of the court and at the appropriate time, parties to the appeal will be notified to receive the same.”
Judges spend over Shs568 million in handling the appeal
Watchdog Uganda has learnt that judges have so far blown away Shs568, 216,930 in the name of handling the constitutional petition appeal.
The justices including Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, Stella Arach Amoko, Eldard Mwangutsya, Opio Aweri, Lillian Tibatemwa, Paul Mugamba, and Jotham Tumwesigye, were appointed by the chief justice to hear the appeal on September 7, 2018.
In a document seen by Watchdog Uganda, on January 4, 2019 Mr Opifeni wrote to the Permanent Secretary to the Judiciary Kagole Kivumbi informing him how the Supreme Court needed Shs292,423,988 in receiving, sorting arranging and distributing pleadings, preparation for pre hearing conference, actual pre hearing conference, actual hearing of appeals and judgment writing delivery and dissemination.
He also requisitioned for Shs31,173,988 as balance of funds that was allocated in the last quarter for handling the appeal.
Despite the hearing of the appeal took only two days, on February 5, 2019, the Supreme Court registrar again wrote to Mr Kivumbi requesting him to avail more Shs275,892,930 to the Court so that it can finalise with the case.
“Following the submission of the original budget for handling the above constitutional Petition Appeal, the Ad hoc Finance Committee instituted to oversee the funds reviewed the budget and recommended that the above amount be availed to handle the appeal to conclusion. The committee has advised that the revised amount quoted above be requisitioned for completion of the appeal. This is now to requisition for the additional shs275,892,930 to cover the revised activities leading to delivery of judgment,” wrote Mr Opifeni.
The essentials needed to be covered by the additional cash were among others the facilitation of justices between hearing and after hearing session costing Shs92 million, facilitation for two registrars and one magistrate costing shs10 million, overtime, dinner and allowance and honoraria costing shs153 million.
Since January 16th2019, and soon entering the third month, the Supreme Court is yet to make a ruling on the presidential age limit. Yet, they have shared nearly sh600 million among themselves, among other items.
This website understands that initially the supreme court justices were supposed to be paid sh15 million each. However, the amount still went up despite the ruling not coming through on time.
Tomorrow we shall tell you how Supreme Court Judges are fighting over Age Limit cash.