The East African Court of Justice First Instance Division has allowed the former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly Margaret Nantongo Zziwa to give evidence in a case she filed against the Secretary General for removal from office.
Ms Zziwa filed the case alleging that the process of her removal from the Office of EALA Speaker was illegal and an infringement of Articles 53 and 56 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.
The EACJ overruled the objections of the SG blocking Ms Zziwa from giving evidence in court without seeking leave of the Assembly, and also re-scheduled the matter for hearing on 18th and 19th November 2015.
The ruling of the Court was delivered by three Judges of the First Instance Division: Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi (Principal Judge), Justice Fakihi A Jundu and Justice Audace Ngiye.
‘The subject of the main Case is that the Applicant (Zziwa) alleges that in contravention of Articles 53 and 56 of the Treaty, Rule 9 and Annex 3 of the Rules of Procedure of EALA and Rule of law, on 26th November, 2014 some members of EALA convened in the Assembly chambers, summoned the Clerk of the Assembly to “preside over the Assembly”, re-instated a motion/process of removal of the Speaker, referred the motion to the Committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges for investigations, “ suspended” the Speaker/Applicant from exercising the functions of the office of Speaker and appointed one of them to preside over the proceedings,’ a statement from the EAC Secretariat indicates. The matter previously was scheduled for hearing of oral evidence on 8th and 9th September 2015, however the Respondent (Secretary General) represented by Mr Stephan Agaba raised the preliminary objection on a preliminary point of law premised on Section 20 of the EALA Powers and Privileges Act 2003.
But in its ruling the court said it found that it has not been satisfactory established before the Court that the evidence the Applicant intends to adduce before the Court does not fall in the ambit (realm) of Section 20 of the EALA Powers and Privileges Act 2003.
‘That it would be premature at this stage to forestall her (Applicant) evidence on the pretext (alleged reason) that it does not comply with the provision of the said Section and again the Court held that it would also be premature to adjudge the Applicant’s evidence and prevent her from testifying in her matter,’ the release adds.
In February 2015 the Court allowed Ms Zziwa to withdraw her Application seeking to stop her impeachment from the Office of the Speaker because the prayers sought had been overtaken by events and the Assembly had elected a new Speaker.