By Max Patrick Ocaido
Kampala High Court has adjourned a case in which Chris Ariko Obore, director Communication and Public Affairs at Parliament is challenging the decision to terminate his contract.
Justice Henrietta Wolayo on Wednesday adjourned the matter up to April 17 to allow the respondents-Parliamentary Commission to swear an affidavit before she delivers her final verdict. She however, issued an interim order halting Obore's sacking pending hearing and determination of the main case. Obore was represented by his lawyer Augustine Idoot while the Parliamentary commission was represented by Sitina Cherotich who requested for an adjournment to allow them swear an affidavit.
On March 22, 2019, Obore swore an affidavit seeking an interim injunction staying the implementation of his contract termination on ground that he was legally recruited by the Parliamentary Commission in 2015. Obore is challenging a sacking letter from Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige dated March 05 claiming that his recruitment was based on an illegality.
PARLIAMENT DIRECTORS GRILLED
Meanwhile, the parliamentary commission on Wednesday held a heated meeting that was attended by all the four backbench commissioners to discuss the circumstances under which Obore was given a sacking letter.
The four commissioners who attended the meeting are; Peter Ogwang (Usuk County), Robinah Nabbanja (Kakumiro District), Arinaitwe Rwakajara (Workers’ MP) and Cecila Ogwal (Dokolo District).
According to a highly placed source, the tough-talking commissioners summoned Deputy Clerk to Parliament, Henry Wasswa, who is Obore's direct supervisor to explain what informed their decision to issue a sacking letter to Obore without the consultation of the commission contrary to the Administration of Parliament Act which states that “every decision of the commission shall, as far as possible, be by consensus.”
The commissioners said that they were not aware of Obore’s sacking until the matter was brought to their attention last week during their meeting with the committee on legal and parliamentary affairs.
In a surprising twist, Wasswa reportedly told the commissioner in the Wednesday meeting that he is not aware of Obore’s sacking letter and that whereas the said letter was copied to him, it was never delivered to him. He added that he only saw the letter on social media.
Wasswa’s response shocked the commissioners who then decided to summon the director Human Resource, Jackson Komakech to explain the same. Komakech also told the commissioners that he has never received Obore’s sacking letter from the Clerk to Parliament and that he was also reading it from social media.
It is at this juncture that the commissioners invited Pius Perry Biribonwoha, the director in charge of Legal and Legislative Services at Parliament. It is alleged that Biribonwoha is the one who wrote Obore’s sacking letter before it was signed by the Clerk to Parliament, Kibirige.
A source told Kampala Post that the commissioners tasked Biribonwoha to explain which legal advice he gave to the Clerk before the sacking letter was written. In response, Biribonwoha denied that the purpose of the letter was not to sack Obore but rather to bring to his attention the IGG’s recommendations. The Commissioners later tasked him to read the letter verbatim.
The excerpts of Kibirige’s letter reads, “In view of the finding by the IGG and the same having been brought to our attention, it follows that your employment as Director, CPA in the parliamentary commission is based on an illegality and ought to be reviewed. In the circumstances, it is apparent that your services will have to be terminated accordingly on terms to be agreed upon.”
After reading the letter to the commissioners, Biribonwoha was left struggling to catch his breath. He was grilled why he rushed to write Obore’s sacking letter yet he did not provide any legal advice during his time of recruitment to which Biribonwoha kept mum. Pushed to the wall, Biribonwoha later retracted saying that he was not the author of the letter.
The commissioners warned parliament technocrats against involving in intrigue and giving malicious advice and advised them to offer professional advice. They warned them against usurping the powers of the commission.
Apparently, the commission is considering summoning the Clerk to Parliament, Kibirige to explain what informed her decision to terminate Obore’s contract without consulting the commission.
Read related article: THE INSIDE STORY: How Obore Was 'Legally' Recruited as Parliament Director