Supreme court justice Prof Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza has lashed out at Ugandans who she said fail to make right choices while casting their ballots and expect the courts to do miracles for them.
Speaking at a symposium organised by the Makerere University School of Law while marking 50 years of its existence, Ekirikubinza, who, for a long time worked at Makerere, said Ugandans have themselves to blame if their elected leaders act contrary to their aspirations.
“People fail to do certain things and want us to do what they failed to do at the ballot. You fail to elect quality legislators and you want court to do that for you. As citizens, you ought to do your job of electing quality legislators who will do quality work for you and not to seek to use the court system to achieve what your leaders have failed to do for you,” Ekirikubinza who was part of the nine judges who in 2016 unanimously decided to uphold the election of President Museveni said.
The former acting vice chancellor of Makerere University might also be part of the panel of judges that will hear the appeal against the passing of the Constitutional Amendment Act that lifted the presidential age limit from the constitution.
Although the Constitutional court quashed part of the provisions of the amendment; the most significant being the extension of the term of office of members of parliament by two years, court, it nevertheless said parliament acted within its powers to lift age limits on presidential candidates.
Ekirikubinza said she gets disturbed by critics of court decisions, many of whom, she said are not even competent to make the criticism.
“Some of the critics against court arise out of the fact that we have lawyers who don’t understand judgements and want to comment on them. The judgement is as good as the lawyers; we would want the Law School to come up as amicus curea [friends of court]” Ekirikubinza said.
Speaking at the same function, deputy chief justice Alphonse Owinyi-Dollo castigated those criticising the Constitutional court for upholding the amendment of the constitution. He said these critics fail to recognise that court saved Ugandans from MPs who wanted to usurp their powers by extending their term of office.
“Everyone talks about the age limit provisions that court upheld and no one talks about court’s intervention to stop parliament from allocating themselves power to extend their term. When you read the judgement, you will find out that the justices almost agreed on all grounds. There was only one dissent…it’s okay to tear our judgement apart but you must recognise the good things in it,” Owinyi-Dollo said.
He called upon Ugandans to start believing in the court system, arguing that, its the only way to attaining a full democratic country that believes in its systems. For her part, Lydia Namubiru, the executive director of Laspnet, a not-for-profit organisation with interest in human rights, legal and constitutional issues said, its high time Makerere University Law School taught students who are up to the challenges of the ever evolving world.
She said lawyers must work towards improving their image that has been badly damaged by their greed for money.
“If you put a lawyer and another person from another field, what would society choose? I’m very sure now people will say lawyers are useless. We need to go back and clean ourselves to improve our image,” Namubiru said.
The symposium was attended by prominent lawyers like Francis Gimara, Joe Oloka-Onyango, John- Jean Barya, justice Remmy Kasule among others.