City lawyer Male Mabirizi has petitioned the High Court in Kampala
seeking to quash the directives issued by President Yoweri Museveni and
Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo suspending several operations due to
On Sunday, President Museveni announced a 42-day closure of schools, to control
COVID-19 infections in the face of a second wave of the pandemic. Museveni also
banned inter-district travel, public gatherings and prayers.
A day after, Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo also suspended all court
hearings including election petitions for 42 days to mitigate the effects of
the new COVID-19 wave.
In his application before the Civil Division, Mabirizi contends
that the President of Uganda has no powers to regulate people in the prevention
of a contentious disease by mere oral statements/orders/or directives and
"The measures declared are not supported by an Act of
Parliament or statutory instrument. The Statements/orders/directives/decrees
are Illegal", reads Mabirizi's application in part.
According to Mabirizi, the said directives are unreasonable,
irrational and defeat common sense.
"That I know the only lawful way the President could make the above
directions were through a statutory instrument, putting into account public
participation and involvement. That I also know that laws in Uganda take effect
upon publication in the Gazette not upon oral communication", reads
Mabirizi's affidavit supporting the case.
On the Chief Justice directives, Mabirizi argues that he lacks the powers
to order for closure of courts acting on a president's speech since such is
reportedly outside his administrative functions.
"That further, I know that it is contrary to the principles
of rule of law, democracy, good governance and human rights to have the Police
and Defense Forces enforcing the speech where people are arrested but courts
closed", reads the affidavit in part.
The Chief Justice had indicated in his circular that only urgent matters
like plea taking and registering of new cases were to be considered within this
period of 42 days.
But Mabirizi adds however that by law the election petitions are
supposed to be heard expeditiously and that the Chief Justice has no powers to
order that they should not be heard.
Mabirizi now wants the court to quash Museveni and Owiny-Dollo's directives on the
ground of being illegal as well as issue a permanent order restraining the government
and her agents from implementing them.
He equally needs damages and costs of the application as a result
of the contentious directives.