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Judge Refuses to Disqualify Self from Kabakumba Election Case

Court of Appeal Judge Steven Kavuma has refused to disqualify himself from a three-man panel hearing an election appeal challenging the victory of Bujenje County MP Kabakumba Masiko.
Court of Appeal Judge Steven Kavuma has refused to disqualify himself from a three-man panel hearing an election appeal challenging the victory of Bujenje County MP Kabakumba Masiko.

The demand for the judge to disqualify himself from the matter was recently made by Phinehas Kyotasobora, Kabakumba’s political rival in last year’s election, citing conflict of interest by the judge to hear the petition.

Kyotasobora, who personally raised his fears in court, submitted that Kabakumba’s lawyer, John Paul Bainagana, was Justice Kavuma’s personal assistant while the judge was the state minister for defense.

He subsequently expressed fears that having developed personal touch with the judge, he could have introduced business to the judge and that to ensure that justice, his request for another judge should be granted.

However, Justice Kavuma while hesitating to bow out from hearing the case on Wednesday morning, noted that there was no personal touch between him and lawyer Bainagana and that their relationship then, was purely official.

Kavuma ruled that he neither knew of any personal touch between himself and Kabakumba’s lawyer that would lead to conflict of interest nor had any evidence been adduced to prove the likelihood of bias as alleged by the petitioner.

Kavuma served as state minister for defense in the 1990s before being dropped from cabinet in 2001.

But the judge said before he assumed the office as a judge, he took the judicial oath under which he is duty-bound to do justice to all manner of people without fear or favor, affection or ill-will.

The judge also noted that the election appeal is being heard by a three-man panel and that alone is a strong safeguard and assurance that justice must be done.

The other justices on the panel include; Augustine Nshimye and Remmy Kasule.

Kyotasobora dragged the former minister for the presidency along with the Electoral Commission to Masindi High Court accusing her of electoral malpractices in the February 18, 2011 elections.

However, the case was dismissed on the grounds that he did not have clear proof of the allegations put against the former minister, hence this appeal.

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