By Sakur AbdulSalam
Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma has declined to step down from an election petition appeal in which a voter, Habib Buwembo seeks to unseat Rubaga South Member of Parliament Kato Lubwama for lack of requisite academic credentials for the seat.
At the commencement of the hearing of Lubwama’s appeal recently, Buwembo’s lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde who is also the Executive Director of Legal Brains Trust (LBT) requested Kavuma to step down from hearing Lubwama’s appeal, stating that there was a sour relationship between Kavuma and Ssemakadde’s LBT.
According to Ssemakadde, LBT had lodged various complaints before the Chief Justice against Kavuma’s alleged misconduct and he would be biased in the case.
However, on Monday, Kavuma said that Ssemakadde’s complaint was not based on any genuine concern, insisting that he would be on the panel hearing the application.
“I am, therefore, not persuaded in the peculiar circumstances of the instant application that there is cause for me to take the decision to recuse myself from the conduct of the application before court," said Kavuma
"In my view the reasons advanced by Buwembo’s lawyer are extremely professionally wanting and suspicious,” he added.
According to Kavuma, litigants have no right to choose which judicial officer should hear and determine their cases before courts of law. “I would be guided by the judicial oath I took before assuming office to hear the case,” he stated.
He ordered the deputy registrar of the court of appeal Deo Nizeyimana to fix the case so that it is heard expeditiously.
Earlier, Buwembo had petitioned the High Court seeking to unseat Lubwama on grounds that he did not have the requisite minimum academic requirements for him to represent the people of Rubaga South.
However, upon hearing the petition, Lubwama sought to throw out Buwembo’s case, saying that he had filed it out of time. But, the trial judge Margaret Oguli-Oumo, rejected Lubwama’s request and allowed his challenger to proceed with the case.
Following the decision, Lubwama rushed to the Court of Appeal, seeking to reverse of the trial judge’s decision in which she allowed the case to proceed against him.