JUDICIAL UPDATES: President Museveni Baskets Ogoola’s Proposal to Replace Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki with DPP Buteera, Justices Katureebe and or Bamwine, Citing Regional Imbalance before Moving Buteera to Court of Appeal
By Stanley Ndawula 30th, April 2013
Just a day after filing the story of how President Museveni is pondering on bending the constitution and have Chief Justice (CJ), His Worship the Honourable Mr. Benjamin Odoki retained, details have filtered in how he also dust-binned the proposals for his replacement.
We have been impeccably informed that Justice James Munange Ogoola-led Judicial Service Commission (JSC) had, as usual ignored advertisement of the post and seconded three names; of the Director for Public Prosecution (DPP) Richard Buteera, Justices Bart Magunda Katureebe and Yorokamu Bamwine as potential replacement of CJ Odoki.
Whereas the trio is arguably fit, more especially Katureebe to step into Odoki’s shoes, President Museveni is known to have shelved the list, arguing he doesn’t want a westerner in that position. “He gave regional imbalance as the reason he can’t approve any of the three,” our State House source offered last night.
Instead, the President moved to transfer DPP Buteera from the position and appointed him Justice of Court of Appeal, reversing prior suggestion of the JSC to have him move to Supreme Court. Indeed, at his level, Buteera would be going to Supreme Court but it was successfully argued that he is still young and energetic for the quite ‘redundant’ top section of the Judicially.
Buteera is being replaced by Justice Simon Mugyenyi Byamukama, the Lira High Court Resident Judge. Sources very close to the powers that be intimated that the President has sworn to do it takes to convince CJ Odoki stay, even if it means on a contract. “And if it fails, he is even ready to have an expatriate for the position,” laboured our source.
The old story
In these lines yesterday, we reported as thus; Close to two months since Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki clocked the retirement age of 70yrs, the Judicial Service Commission Chairman, Justice James Munange Ogoola is yet to advertise the top-most position in Uganda’s judicial system.
We have landed on vital information that Ogoola’s delay to advertise the position is a deliberate move as State House legal officials have directives to find means of how changes can be made in order to retain Odoki whom, intelligence gathered, has already been booked by South African authorities for legal expertise contract.
The conundrum however, is that Odoki made the same constitution that demands his move after clocking 70yrs. The twelfth CJ, His Worship the Honourable Mr. Benjamin Odoki had his retirement date clock on mid-night March 22nd 2013. And he is meant to fully leave office on June 23rd 2013, hence his position should by this time, have been advertised and a list of shortlisted before the President.
“The President is reluctant to have him go and that is the reason his position is still intact. Intelligence reads that he (Odoki) will be leaving for South Africa early May, meaning there will not be a CJ for a whole month,” our inner source intimated. To make matters even worse, if CJ ‘pre-maturely’ throws in the towel, there is not even a substantial Deputy to take the mantle.
Following the death of Justice Constance Byamugisha last month, then Acting Deputy Chief Justice DCJ, Justice Stephen Kavuma picked the DCJ robe, but in acting position as well. This means if Odoki moves out, not only his position but also that of the Deputy will have no substantive replacements. “The President is in dire need to have Odoki retained because though 70yrs, he is still of sound mind and that is the reason South Africa is picking him on,” offered our source further.
The situation sounds quite tricky as President Museveni is rumoured to be in advanced stages of convincing the Busia born Odoki. But the old cum strong and still brainy legal mind is reported to be reluctant, given the fact that he made the very constitution that demands he leaves at 70yrs.