‘He is inciting people to attack us.’
Angered by harsh criticism of their work, High court judges have called for the sacking of presidential press secretary Joseph Tamale Mirundi. Meeting chief justice Bart Katureebe at Grand Imperial hotel on Friday, the justices were united in their condemnation of Tamale.
The meeting was convened specifically for all High court judges to speak plainly about their challenges and suggest ways Justice Katureebe can improve the judiciary.
First to speak was Justice Benjamin Kabiito of the High court’s civil division. Justice Kabiito told the meeting that Mirundi had attacked him severally on radio talk shows.
Mirundi reportedly singled out Kabiito for his handling of a case in which Cairo International Bank was challenging its prosecution in the Anti-Corruption court in regard to the theft of an estimated Shs 169bn meant for pensioners.
Apparently, Mirundi criticized Justice Kabiito for ruling that Cairo bank shouldn’t be prosecuted for its role in the scam.
“The information I have is Tamale Mirundi doesn’t have any ethics and he doesn’t report to anyone. He was even on radio asking people to attack me. He would say, ‘beat him up, he is corrupt’,” the judge said.
“I’m told between 7pm and 8pm the time he is on radio, he is drunk; so I don’t know if really he is sober enough to understand these issues of court.”
Justice Stephen Musota, the head of High court civil division, said at one time on radio, Mirundi incited people to attack him with iron bars.
Musota said Mirundi took issue with the judge’s handling of a case involving 1,000 former spies who wanted their retirement benefits worth about Shs 39bn paid. According to Musota, what angered Tamale was the judge’s rejection of an application by the Inspectorate of Government (IG) that sought to block the payments.
“I heard him saying that judge [Musota] should be beaten thoroughly. He is just corrupt. How can he rule like that?” Musota said amidst laughter.
Musota told Katureebe that he had told the judiciary’s senior communications officer Solomon Muyita to get Mirundi’s recording for the chief justice to take to President Museveni.
In response, Katureebe said he too had been a victim of Mirundi’s notoriety on radio talk shows.
“During the two-year impasse when we had no substantive chief justice, he [Mirundi] went on radio and he said it wasn’t President Museveni who had refused to appoint me as chief justice but it was me who wrote a letter to the president turning down the job on grounds that I’m sick. But I have never written such a letter and I have no health problems,” Katureebe said, drawing wild cheers.
The chief justice said Mirundi doesn’t seem to be accountable to anyone since he abuses any person he wants.
“I have heard that individual insult the Kabaka, the archbishop and the cardinal. I think I will very soon raise this issue with the president since his attacks can create problems for judicial officers,” Katureebe said.
Interviewed for a comment on Friday, April 24, Mirundi reminded their lordships that they are not immune from attacks.
“Those judges are suffering from colonialism. They think they are important but they are not important, they are just servants of the people and as long as they are corrupt, we shall talk about them,” Mirundi said.
“By the mere fact that they have reacted to my statements, that is an indication that I have defeated them. If they think that I’m guilty of anything, let them sentence me to death.”
Mirundi again singled out justice Kabiito. He said on several occasions he has exposed his corrupt tendencies.
“I want Kabiito to tell me how I got his judgment [of Cairo bank] before he could read it out. I’m sure it wasn’t written by him and I have evidence to that effect. I just don’t talk without any proof,” he said.
He also laughed off the judges’ call for his firing.
“Do they [judges] know my terms of reference? Do they know why the president appointed me? And even if I was fired, would that take away the fact that they are corrupt?” Mirundi asked.
He advised the judiciary to get a combative publicist to counter his every argument.