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MPs write to Museveni over Justices Egonda, Gaswaga

The Parliamentary vetting of judicial nominees to the Supreme and Appeals court ended yesterday, but Parliament was hugely dissatisfied with the appointment of Justice Egonda Ntende to the Appeals court and Judge Duncan Gaswaga to the High court.

The Appointments committee has asked its chairperson and Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, to write to President Museveni saying the two justices would be underemployed if they took up the appointments. Justice Egonda Ntende, the MPs argue, has the experience and capacity to be at the Supreme court.

An MP who attended the committee on Tuesday, to vet the last three judges who missed out in the first interviews, said the lawmakers were dissatisfied with the posting of Justice Egonda to the Court of Appeal yet he has served at the same court before he became Chief Justice in Seychelles.

“We held an extensive discussion about his appointment and in the committee’s wisdom, we told the chairperson (Kadaga) to write to the president, advising him that he is qualified for a position at the Supreme court,” the MP said.

Ntende, 56, has been the Chief Justice of the Republic of Seychelles since 2009. Before that, he served in the Court of Appeal and was briefly co-opted to the Supreme court of Uganda. He was promoted to the Court of Appeal in early 2000, and is remembered for his progressive judgments. These include the David Tinyefuza V Attorney General case, in which he joined the other judges in ruling that Tinyefuza had a right to leave the army.

“We want someone of his stature and he has the clout having served in the international community; for instance, he served at the Court of Appeal of East Timor, where he helped set up an independent judiciary,” a member of the Appointments committee said.

The committee was also impressed by Justice Amos Twinomujuni. Some members noted that he could be a better choice for Chief Justice. “We interacted with him for 30 minutes and everyone was impressed by his submission, which actually reflects the work he has done ever since he joined the judiciary,” said one member of the committee.

Twinomujuni, 67, joined the judiciary in 1973 and he is also appreciated in the legal fraternity for being a progressive and liberal judge, following his notable judgment in the case of Charles Onyango-Obbo and Andrew Mwenda, where he said that publishing false news as provided under section 50 of the Penal Code was null and void.

The committee also noted that Judge Duncan Gaswaga who was promoted from magistrate to High court judge would be underemployed, since he has the capacity to be at the Court of Appeal, having served at the Supreme court of Seychelles.

When contacted yesterday, Kagole Kivumbi, the Secretary to the Judicial Service Commission, which picks the nominees, said: “Without commenting about anyone, we had 28 names of those who applied, those that were nominated and others who were promoted and, everyone attended our interview. So, by the fact that everyone attended the interviews without any expression of dissatisfaction, is an indicator that they liked the posts,” he said.

skakaire@observer.ug  

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