A group of protesters claiming to be National Resistance Movement (NRM) supporters today stormed the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala protesting litigations against Speaker Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.
The group claims Kadaga is being targeted for presiding over proceedings that led to passing of the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 2, 2017, popularly known as the age limit bill.
The protesters today carried placards reading “Leave Kadaga Alone, Kadaga Oyeee, Kagada mumuleke,” arguing that the age limit bill was passed in the right manner and that Kadaga has no case to answer. They are saying the case should be dismissed.
One of the protesters, Omulangira Eli Wasajja, the head of NRM media team for Buganda region, says “we are here to support Kadaga and NRM. We are saying there is no case that Kadaga should answer because all that happened in parliament was legal and followed right procedures.”
Today, the High court was set to start hearing of the case filed by six Members of Parliament who were suspended by Kadaga on December 18 during the start of the debate that culminated in the passing of the bill on December 20.
Speaker Kadaga accused the MPs Ssemujju Nganda, Gerald Karuhanga, Mubarak Munyagwa, Allan Ssewanyana, Anthony Akol and Odur Nathan of unruly behaviour and suspended them as she adjourned the morning session of the House.
The MPs went to court, through their lawyers of Lukwago and Company Advocates, to challenge Kadaga’s decision saying it was unlawful. They want a declaration that Speaker Kadaga could not have suspended them after she adjourned the house.
On the day they were suspended, Kadaga announced the suspensions after she had communicated to the House that she was adjourning the sitting to 2pm. They now want court to order the Speaker to stop taking parliament under her arms but conduct parliamentary duties basing on the set rules of procedure.
High Court Judge Oumo Oguli has referred the case to the Constitutional Court saying the matter was filed inappropriately.
While reading the ruling on behalf of Justice Margret Oumo Oguli, the Deputy Registrar of High court, Joy Kabagye noted that the case was not in the jurisdiction of the said court but instead referred the six applicants to the Constitutional court for interpretation.
“Having perused through the evidence provided, this court is of the considered view that the matter should have been taken to constitutional court instead,” read part of the ruling.
The suspension meant that the legislators missed out on the debate and voting on the age limit bill which removed presidential age limit caps in the constitution. According to their lawyer, Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, the suspended MPs wanted court to declare their suspension invalid and to order the speaker to withdraw her decision so that they can go back to the August house.
Lukwago says he is not satisfied with the way the case has been handled because he expected the hearing not a ruling.
“All the parties are here, you take out summons, you serve on the other party the court process, you file the necessary affidavits to prove that actually you have done the service; the other party puts in a response because they have filed an affidavit by Jane Kiggundu the clerk to parliament, you come for the hearing, [and] all you see is the registrar delivering a ruling in a matter which has not been heard. It is so surreal, so strange, so strange,” Lukwago said.
It emerged yesterday that President Yoweri Museveni has already appended his signature to the Age Limit bill. The presidential assent clears the way for amendment of Article 102(b) of the constitution to remove presidential age limit caps. The article barred people above 75 and those below 35 years from running for the highest office.
The bill also extends the term of office of parliament from the current five years to seven years. The bill, however, restores presidential term limits which had been removed in a 2005 constitutional amendment that paved the way for President Museveni, in power since 1986, to contest again after his two five-year terms had expired.