There was drama in Uganda’s Supreme court after unknown people switched off the public address system and power as dissenting Justice Esther Kisakye delivered the bombshell that Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo confiscated her minority ruling in Bobi Wine’s election petition.
Eight other judges who were to listen to Wine’s case walked out on her. Addressing the press in a fully-packed courtroom, Judge Kisakye said that despite instructing her staff to put the ruling on her table for delivery, the file was confiscated under the CJ’s instructions.
She further said that she respects the chief justice and other members of the quorum not to be part of the afternoon proceedings where she was to make her minority ruling on the petition. “I am sitting here today to read the rulings we have made on Kyagulanyi’s 2021 presidential petition which was withdrawn recently. However, what is of a surprise to me is that my file has apparently been confiscated under the orders of the chief justice,” said Kisakye.
She, however, told the journalists that she would proceed to the court building to recover the file and come back to deliver her ruling later in the day as scheduled.
The judge at the same time said that she decided to defy the orders of Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo who told her she could only deliver her minority ruling in Bobi Wine’s petition case at a later date. According to Owiny-Dollo, this can only take effect after the other eight judges on the other panel had debated it.
“He (chief justice) said that my ruling will come at a later date that we choose to appoint and after he and other members of the quorum had probably vetted my ruling,” Kisakye further said.
She reiterated that she had found the order unconstitutional and chosen to disobey it. “When I was appointed a judge of this court in 2009, I swore to uphold the Constitution of Uganda and also the judicial oath and I am acting based on those undertakings I made,” she explained.
Kisakye said that she thought it was her constitutional duty to disobey the order of the chief justice, which she termed as unlawful, and instead fulfil her duty as a member of the quorum to deliver her decision within 45 days that are required under Article 104. During the lodging of the election petition in February under his 26 grounds, Wine claimed the Thursday, January 14, elections were marred with poll irregularities.
The Uganda Electoral Commission declared President Yoweri Museveni the winner of the presidential poll after garnering six million votes (58%), while Bobi Wine came in the second position with 3.6 million votes (35%). Bobi Wine, 39, accused the Supreme Court of blocking his evidence saying that he was withdrawing his presidential petition from the court and taking the matter before the public court.
The 2021 presidential candidate on a National Unity Platform (NUP) party ticket had also demanded that justices; Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo (Museveni defence lawyer in 2006), Mike Chibita (Museveni’s private secretary for seven years), and Ezekiel Muhanguzi (relative to security minister Elly Tumwine) recuse themselves from his presidential petition.