Minister Wants High Court Judge Probed for Bias

High Court Judge Jessica Naiga presided over a hearing challenging Engolas election as a Member of Parliament for Oyam North constituency and kicked Engola out of parliament for lack of requisite academic qualifications.
Okello Engola Letter

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State Minister for Defense Charles Okello Engola has asked Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine to probe the conduct of High Court Judge Jessica Naiga accusing her of bias.

Naiga presided over a hearing challenging Engola's election as a Member of Parliament for Oyam North constituency and kicked Engola out of parliament for lack of requisite academic qualifications.

The ruling was based on a petition filed by Crispus Ayena Odongo, Engola's main challenger in the February 18 parliamentary election. Engola won the vote with 21,785 votes, against 15,796 votes obtained by Ayena Odong.

But Crispus Ayena Odongo successfully challenged his election on ground that a certificate from Air Defense College, Nakasongola, which was presented prior to his nomination, was invalid because the institution is not listed among colleges gazetted by Uganda National Council for Higher Education.

Ayena also contested discrepancies in the names that appear on the various documents that Engola presented for nomination. While some documents have letter 'P' in between, others did not.

Engola presented for nomination, the East African Certificate of Education obtained in 1977, a Master's Degree in Public Administration and Management from Kampala International University and a Certificate from Air Defense College, Nakasongola. All transcripts are recorded in the names of Okello Charles P. Engola.

However, in an affidavit sworn to authenticate his documents, Okello Engola said he changed his name in 2005 to Okello Charles Engola MacOdwogo without the said "P". The letter 'P' is also nonexistent on his National Identity Card which bears the name Okello Engola Charles MacOdwogo.

The judge questioned why he failed to include the letter 'P' in his December 27 2005 affidavit for change of names and on the National ID, saying the documentation represents two different people. She ruled that Engola's nomination contravened Section 4 (c) of the Parliamentary Elections Act which puts the qualification of an MP at S.6 or its equivalent.

But, in a three-page letter to Justice Bamwine, Engola accused the judge of bias. He stated that Naiga has deliberately denied his legal team access to the court ruling, thereby dashing his hope of appealing.

“My Lord, I feel that the conduct of the judge in carrying away the whole file from Lira High Court and refusal to give her copies of the judgment after she delivered the same is a conduct of bias,” the letter reads.  He is now demanding that the principal judge immediately withdraws the file from justice Naiga to avoid “tampering with evidence and rewriting the judgment”

Speaking to URN on phone, Engola said he decided to write to the Principle Judge because he is dissatisfied with ruling and the conduct of the judge.

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