Age limit: fresh comedy as hearing turns into jokes over fans, stones

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Lawyers Erias Lukwago and Counsel Laudislaus Rwakafuzi during the second day of the age limit petition proceedings

The of petitions challenging the Constitution Amendment Act No 2 of 2017 continues in Mbale district has entered day three with several jokes being passed between the petitioners, lawyers and the judges.

On Tuesday which was the second day, the petitioners’ lawyers; James Byamukama and Erias Lukwago said that the extension of the term of Parliament contravenes articles 77(4), 91, 79(1), and Rule 93(2) of the Rules of Procedure.

The lawyers also opposed the extension of the term of Local Councils 3 and 5 from 5 to 7 years saying it is unconstitutional as it offends article 176 (3) and 184(6) of the constitution.

Court adjourned to Wednesday following a two-hour consultation between counsels and Justices in Deputy Chief Justice Owiny Dollo’s chambers.

Owiny said this was to “enable counsels on both sides to prepare properly”.

Victoria University

On Wednesday, Mr Male Mabirizi, a petitioner representing himself, said Parliament amended article 260(2) by adding to it clauses entrenching presidential term limits, which he says require a referendum.

Mabirizi says article 259 provides for amendment by addition, which Parliament did to article 260, an entrenched constitutional provision

Comedy

Mr. Mwesigwa Rukutana, who is leading lawyers from the Attorney General’s Chambers, representing Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and the Attorney General, was among those who started the comedy.

He was responding to Mabirizi who insisted he [Rukutana] had a child with one of the justices on the panel Elizabeth Musoke.

Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana: This petitioner is being notorious.

Deputy Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny-Dollo: Whether something is notorious or not, it is this court to decide but not you. We shall not allow you to use such references.

Then human rights lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi threw the audience into bouts of laughter when he complained about the heat in the room and the need for fans.

Lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi: My Lord I was praying that you give us more fans because this place is very hot.

Deputy CJ Alfonse Owiny-Dollo: Under which article of the constitution is that provided for?

On Wednesday, Lukwago renewed the humour while arguing that the extension of term of Parliament came as a by the way without a bill to Parliament out of excitement cannot be sustained.

Lawyer Erias Lukwago: My Lord I just wanted to leave no stone unturned.

DCJ Owiny-Dollo: Some stones have snakes under them Mr. Lukwago, so you are better off living them unturned.

Serious business

Lukwago said the amount of money that was given to MPs for consultation was illegal, noting that what is taken illegally amounts to theft.

He said even some MPs held these consultation meetings in bushes.

“This country has a history of people declaring themselves Life Presidents. Bringing the amendment of their (MPs) term of office which was not covered by the Certificate of Financial Implication brought a heavy implication on the Consolidated Fund. Parliament abrogated the provisions in article 93,” Lukwago argued.

“My Lords if you agree with me that this amendment breached and contravened article 93. Then my argument will lead to annulment of the entire process including the Age Limit.”

According to the Centre for Constitutional Governance (CCG), a Constitutional Watchdog, Uganda’s 23 year constitutional journey will either be mended or broken by the way judiciary will determine the Age Limit Petition in Mbale.

“Constitutionalism can only flourish where safeguards for peaceful handover of power exist, predictability on transfer of political power.”

Meanwhile, former presidential candidate Abed Bwanika accuses his lawyers of withdrawing age limit case without his permission.

According to Bwanika’s petition, Ugandans should have voted in a referendum to decide whether the presidential age limit should have been scrapped or not.

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