Parliament was yesterday set to launch investigations into the Shs6b oil cash bonanza dished out to 42 government top officials for the role they purportedly played in the oil dispute between Uganda and Heritage Oil and Tullow Oil over capital gains tax.
However, when Mbarara Municipality MP, Michael Tumusiime moved a motion calling for investigation of the money dished out, the debate was interrupted by the deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana who informed Parliament that he had been served with a Court order regarding the debate of that particular topic.
The order, issued by Justice Steven Kavuma barred parliament from discussing or investigating the matter.
In response, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga suspended the house until the “Attorney General vacates the stupid order”.
The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has come out to the defense of parliament. Through a statement issued Wednesday by the Francis Gimara, the president ULS, he said that Kavuma’s directive stopping Parliament from debating the Shs6 billion oil cash bonus closes down parliament as an arena to debate issues of public importance and those related to how public affairs are managed.
“The order sets a dangerous precedent with serious negative effects on the functioning of the legislative organ of the state,” he said further adding that the principle of separation of power forbids the judiciary from intervening in the deliberative process of parliament and that its mandate is limited to determining the validity of the outcomes from the legislative process.
“ULS has decided to apply to be joined as an interested party to constitutional petition NO. 07 of 2017 from which the impugned order arises. ULS will move to challenge the interim order and the petition. We urge parliament and all decision makers to strengthen the vetting process for the appointment of judicial officers. It should be recalled that the Judicial Service Commission had reservations about the appointment of the Deputy Chief Justice and parliament appointment committee glossed about it,” he advised.
In a related move, a statement issued today by Judiciary’s Chief Registrar, Paul Gadenya Wolimbwa, they applauded parliament for respecting the order and advised them to appeal it if they are aggrieved.
“The Judiciary has noted that parliament is aggrieved by the decision of the Constitutional Court and has in that respect directed the Attorney General to take immediate steps to have the order set aside by the Constitutional Court. The action taken by parliament is commendable and is in accordance with the rule of law because the law allows any aggrieved party to appeal or challenge the decision of a court,” reads a statement by Wolimbwa. He further adds that the AG is at liberty to appeal the decision.
Meanwhile, another lawyer, Isaac Ssemakadde has petitioned High Court seeking orders to sue Doris Akol, the Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) on behalf of those who received the oil case bonuses.
He argues that that Akol and other officials allegedly received the impugned cash bonuses through unlawful, irrational, unfair, arbitrary and unjustifiable procedure and thus they ought to refund the monies to the national treasury.