President Museveni on 30th January summoned Chief Justice Bart Katureebe to Entebbe State House, but the reasons for the summoning were not readily established.
The Chief Justice had to abruptly abandon the week-long annual Judges Conference in Kampala to rush to State House to meet the President.
“My lords the Deputy Chief Justice and Principal Judge, you will forgive me as I won’t be able to attend your presentations as State duty has called. I am heading to Entebbe now,” Chief Justice Katureebe told fellow judges and left the conference hall to head to Entebbe the next morning.
Reasons why the President called the Chief Justice to State House remained unclear however, the summons came barely two days after the President kicked up a storm when he rejected calls by the judiciary for recruitment of more judges with the Chief Justice subsequently saying it is the citizens who will pay the ultimate price if the President’s decision is followed.
The Senior Presidential Press Secretary, Mr Don Wanyama, said the meeting between the President and the Chief Justice had been scheduled long before Mr Museveni met the judges on Monday.
He downplayed the speculation that the Chief Justice had been called to State House following his response to the President’s objection to recruitment of new judges.
“It’s a meeting scheduled long ago and it’s not only the Chief Justice. Other government officials are involved,” Mr Wanyama said.
However this does not explain why the Chef Justice would abruptly announce his departure from a conference he was chairing for the State House meeting if it had long been scheduled with his knowledge.
During the launch of the conference the Chief Justice said the President’s objection to recruiting more judges would hurt Ugandans because it would take a long time for the litigants to receive justice.
“The consequences of the recruitment ban on more judges will entirely affect the people who are the consumers of justice. Given the circumstances, we shall work within our means,” the Chief Justice told Daily Monitor Newspaper in an interview on that fateful Tuesday, a day after the President’s snub.
However insider sources at the Top House revealed that there was an angry exchange between Museveni and chief justice Bert Katureebe , after the head of judiciary was summoned to state house by M7 and got blasted and accused of undermining the regime.An angry Museveni is said to have not even shaken the hands of his guest but rather went in an angry tirade, accusing Katureebe of having hidden agenda and inciting members of the judiciary to put unfair demands on regime.
Katureebe who is said to have kept a cool demeanor as M7 exploded, later responded by telling Museveni that he was only doing his job to deliver justice to the people of Uganda.
Museveni challenged Katureebe to resign if he thought the regime was not supporting him and his branch enough.
Katureebe is said to have literary stormed out, the confrontation was an escalation from the previous day, when M7 addressed judges and told them that he was not going to nominate more judges, which caused the chief justice to respond by openly criticizing the decision by M7, and saying it was wrong and would jeopardize the delivery of justice. M7 is said to have left the meeting in full rage.
According to political analysts its believed that M7 is fighting Katureebe after rumours has is that Katurebe whose the head of the judges on the age limit petition has shown support in favour of layman and more stingy info surfaced in Bushenyi that Katureebe had presidential ambitions supported by Minister Kahinda Otafiire
Its remembered that while opening the annual Judges Conference on Monday, President Museveni rejected Justice Katureebe’s plea to provide resources to recruit more judges and tackle the monstrous case backlog in the Judiciary.
The President instead advised that government would rather pay the few serving judicial officers better than recruit new numbers.
“So if you don’t have, what are you going to do because if you don’t prioritise at the strategic level, you will fail because you don’t have enough resources. I can tell you this. Therefore, rather than insisting on numbers and more numbers when you are not able to manage them, I would rather concentrate on remunerating the ones we have and then see how to manage other shortages,” President Museveni told the judges.
His announcement upset judicial officers who later said they were considering to scale down their work.
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