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Bart Magunda Katureebe narrates rough road to chief justice in new book

Bart Magunda Katureebe narrates the rough road to chief justice in a new book

Former chief justice Bart Magunda Katureebe in his book titled,’My Life:Turbulent Times and Service in Three branches government,‘Justice Katureebe narrates while the search to replace justice Odoki was ongoing in one of the meetings of the judicial service commission the then Attorney General Peter Nyombi said that president Museveni and Mr Mbabazi felt that Odoki should be reappointed as chief justice.

“ Almost in unison, the members asked how and why. The commission took the view that the position would be contrary to the commission and to precedent and therefore undermine good governance. It was decided that the commission would go ahead with its programme and receive nominations from the stakeholders that had been requested to make nominations,”justice Katureebe narrates in his book.

In his book that was launched on Friday at Kampala Serena Hotel Justice Katureebe further said that as the debate raged on president Museveni invited him to State House on June 20, 2013 and told him of how he was the right choice for the Chief justice but wanted justice Odoki to hang on for more two years.

“ He (president Museveni) told me that I should be the one appointed Chief justice due to the record I had as the attorney general and my seniority at the Supreme Court though he had decided Chief Justice Odoki to continue for more two years,” he stated.

He continued: “ I listened to him attentively. I then responded to him that as far as I was concerned, I had no problem with his appointment of chief justice Odoki or anybody else as chief. I told him that I was happy and contented to remain and serve as justice of the Supreme Court. He appeared relieved.”

“ However, I thought I should use the occasion to let the president know my legal opinion on the whole thing. As Attorney General, I had got used to giving my candid opinions on a number of issues.

‘ Your Excellency ,but does the constitution allow you to do what you are proposing to do? Straight away he replied that the prime minister has assured him that there was no problem.”

Justice Katureebe said the president went ahead and placed a call to Mr Mbabazi and told him that other lawyers had opposed the reappointment of Odoki as chief justice and that the same would offend the constitution.

“ He then returned to me and said he would make further consultations on the matter . I left .From that moment the matter of being appointed Chief Justice got off my mind,” he asserts in the book.

Katureebe adds that the president went ahead to nominate and forward Odoki’s name to parliament for approval as Chief Justice but the matter eventually ended up in the constitutional court for interpretation lasting about two years.

However this situation saw Justice Steven Kavuma designated as the acting Chief Justice and deputy for two years.

Meanwhile after the two years of arbitration,in a 4:1 majority judgement,the court held that it was unconstitutional for Mr Museveni to reappoint justice Odoki as Chief Justice upon his retirement aged 70.

“The framers of the 1995 constitution made it clear that upon retirement, the chief justice isn’t eligible to be reappointed to the same position,” justice Lillian Tibatemwa who wrote the lead judgment.

The other justices were Eldad Mwanguhya Remmy Kasule, Solomy Balungi Bossa.

Eventually in March 2015 Justice Bart Magunda Katureebe was appointed as the Chief Justice and went to serve at the helm of the judiciary up to June 2020 upon clocking retirement age of 70.

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