On Tuesday, Justice Ssekaana declined to step down from the matter in his ruling read by the Deputy Civil Division Registrar, Sarah Langa, arguing that he took oath to be independent, saying no one can influence his decisions.
One of the Applicants Male Mabirizi addressing Journalists at High Court
Justice Musa Ssekaana has declined
to recuse himself from a case in which Electoral Commission Chairperson;
Justice Simon Byabakama is accused of failing to resign from the Court of
The applicants want court to issue a permanent injunction restraining
Justice Byabakama from holding the office of Electoral Commission chairperson
until he resigns from the Appellant Court.
However, in December last year, the applicants led by Erias
Lukwago and Male Mabirizi asked Justice Ssekaana to excuse himself from the
matter since he reportedly served as an external lawyer for the Commission
prior to his appointment as High Court judge.
This morning, Justice
Ssekaana declined to step down from the matter in his ruling read by the Deputy
Civil Division Registrar, Sarah Langa, arguing that he took oath to be
independent, saying no one can influence his decisions.
He said the applicants asked him to step down from the matter
so as to threaten and intimidate him for political reasons, since the country
is in election mood. Justice Ssekaana said he will not bore down to
intimidation, adding that despite being transferred to Mbarara as Resident
Judge, he will hold on the case file and deliver justice in the matter as
judge confessed having served as a lawyer for the Commission both before and after
being appointed High Court judge, he handled some cases where the Commission won some matter and lost others. Key
of the cases where Ssekaana represented the
Commission was when Kabagambe Asol sued EC for nominating Dr. Kiiza Besigye for
the 2006 Presidential Elections when he was in prison. He also represented the
Commission in the election petition of Muwanga Lutaya Vs Kenneth Lubogo.
to journalists shortly after the ruling, Erias
Lukwago, who represented the People’s Government, said the ruling clearly
indicates that Justice Ssekaana has personal interest in the matter. Mabirizi
was equally not happy with the decision. This isn’t the first matter against EC that Justice Ssekaana
is handling as a judge.
Last year, Justice Ssekaana decided on in a case where Catherine
Osupelem, the Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party candidate sued the
Commission for disqualifying her from the Pallisa Woman Parliamentary race. She challenged the Commission for failing to nominate her on
grounds that her names didn't match those on her academic qualifications,
which saw the Commission declare her rival, Faith Alupo as an opposed.
In 2019, the Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe issued "The
Constitutional (Recusal of Judicial Officers Practice) Directions, 2019, in which
he advised judges to step out of cases before them, should the applicant raise
issues of bias against them. Last year, Justice Anglin Ssenoga stepped down from
the criminal trial of Dr. Stella Nyanzi when her lawyer, Isaac Ssemakadde
raised issues of bias against her.