COURT: Mabirizi case against Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo set for next week

KAMPALA, UGANDA: CIty Lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi last week petitioned the Supreme Court seeking Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo to disqualify himself from chairing a panel of nine justices of the court that will hear Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine’s election petition challenging President Museveni’s victory in the January 14 election.

In his petition, Mabirizi alleges that Justice Owiny-Dollo was part of the legal team that defended the victory of President Museveni who was a presidential candidate in 2006 when his election was challenged in court by his rival Dr Kizza Besigye.

He says Justice Owiny-Dollo is already biased in favour of Museveni and cannot be impartial to deliver justice in the Kyagulanyi petition against his former client.

“Owiny-Dollo, CJ was formerly engaged/ hired as a personal attorney/ advocate of the first respondent (Mr Museveni) in the lead petition,” Mr Mabirizi avers in his application.

“Objectively viewed, Owiny-Dollo is disqualified by prior engagement described above from being sufficiently impartial to adjudicate the head petition at hand,” he further states.

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The court has set Tuesday next week to hear Mr Mabirizi’s application. A panel of nine justices headed by Chief Justice Owiny Dollo will hear the application.

Mr Mabirizi also explains that he has brought the application to the attention of the court because he is bound to defend the Constitution and in particular to resist any person or group of persons including judicial officers, seeking to overthrow the constitutional order.

The application was filed in court on Monday. Mr Mabirizi claims he accessed Justice Owiny-Dollo’s curriculum vitae that he presented to the Judicial Service Commission, which he says confirms that he was part of Mr Museveni’s legal team in the 2006 petition.

“On February 12, 2021, I accessed the curriculum vitae of Owiny-Dollo, presented to the Judicial Service Commission for appointment as Deputy Chief Justice in the year 2017. At page 2 of the said CV, he states that in 2006, he was a member of the defence team for Yoweri K. Museveni (1st respondent in Bobi petition) in the presidential election, Col. Rtd Dr Kizza Besigye Vs Yoweri Museveni and the EC,” Mr Mabirizi states.

When an application for a judge to disqualify himself or herself from hearing a case for alleged conflict of interest or other good reason, the said judge listens to the reasons advanced by the complainant and makes a ruling on whether to quit or stay.

Mr Kyagulanyi, in his petition filed on February 1, seeks to annul Mr Museveni’s victory on grounds that his election was fraudulent and conducted outside the electoral laws which substantially tilted the outcome in his favour.

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Among his other prayers, Mr Kyagulanyi wants Mr Museveni’s victory annulled with the EC to organize fresh elections.

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