The move by government to block debate by Parliament regarding the sharing of billions of oil money by senior government officials has rubbed the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga the wrong way, prompting her to order Attorney General William Byaruhanga to vacate a court order issued by controversial judge Steven Kavuma.
In August last year, 42 officials from the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), the ministries of Finance and Justice, and the Attorney General’s Office, shared Shs6 billion, part of the US$434 million ‘saved’ after they reportedly won a Capital Gains Tax case for Uganda against two oil prospecting companies, Heritage Oil and Tullow Oil. The sharing provoked unprecedented outrage from several quarters, including Parliament which set in motion plans to investigate the matter.
It is against this background that a one Eric Sabiiti, an employee of the Electoral Commission (EC) run to the Constitutional Court, seeking to block the parliamentary investigation.
In the ensuing activity the matter came before Justice Kavuma, a judicial officer regarded by many as one who grant controversial court orders to the advantage of the state, and he did not disappoint: he issued an interim restraining court order.
“An interim order is hereby issued restraining Parliament, any person or authority from investigating, questioning or inquiring into the impugned bonus payments and or staying all proceedings of whatever mature. If any, which may be pending before any forum whatsoever arising from the impugned payments, until the main applicant No 06 of 2017 has been heard and determined,” reads Kavuma’s order.
And, this afternoon Speaker Kadaga was in mood to entertain ‘stupidity’; she rejected the court order by Justice Kavuma that was presented by Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana.
Indeed, Kadaga insisted that Rukutana and team withdraw the Kavuma court order or she adjourns Parliament indefinitely.
“I direct the Attorney General to move to Court and have this stupid order vacated,” Ms Kadaga said, adding: “I will adjourn the committees and plenary until the Court order is vacated.”
Earlier, Kadaga had warned on the infringement of Parliament’s independence when she revealed that this wasn’t the first court order against Parliament.
“Honorable members, I cannot accept a situation where a court dictates on how we shall speak in this House, on how we shall write the order paper so a court is interfering with oversight powers of this house, it goes to the core of the democracy of this country.Honorable members, this order says we should inquire, we should not investigate that is unacceptable,” the Speaker said.
Kadaga was supported by former Leader of Opposition, Prof. Ogenga Latigo who said that the current fall-out between the three arms of government is as a result of the Executive.
“I think the executive should apologise to Parliament for trying to encourage this mischief of Court order” Prof. Latigo said.
The current bickering among the three arms of government brings back memories of the another court order issued by Justice Kavuma in 2014, when he ordered that four National Resistance Movement (NRM) ‘rebel MPs’ including Theodore Sekikubo, Barnabas Tinkasiimire, Wilfred Niwagaba and Muhammad Nsereko, be kicked out of Parliament because they had been thrown out by their party.