KAMPALA – High Court Judge Musa Ssekaana has on Tuesday, January 21, declined to step down from hearing a case in which members belonging to a pressure group, People’s Government wants the EC chairperson blocked from conducting the 2021 General elections.
The pressure group and a concerned citizen who is also lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi sued EC chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama and secretary Sam Rwakoojo together with the Attorney General.
People’s government members led by Erias Lukwago together with Mabirizi had argued that they will not get justice since the trial judge Ssekaana had ever represented the EC while he was still practising as a private advocate in Kampala which he also agreed to.
They argued that the judge would experience a conflict of interest to determine a case against his former client the EC.
However, Justice Ssekaana while declining to step aside from the case reasoned that an application for recusal of a judicial officer is the occupational hazard every judicial officer must face in the course of his/her judicial career.
The judge noted any judge will tell you that listening to an application for judge’s recusal and making a ruling on that application are some of the biggest challenges judges face in the course of their judicial duties.
He further explained that he took a judicial oath which binds him to independently despense justice to all manner of people without any due influence or favour.
“Asking a judge to recuse him or herself is a serious matter one who comes to court to ask the presiding judge in a case to recuse herself must come fully and properly armed with all necessary material to support such an application because it is the core of the administration of justice,” the judge ruled.
The judge has has also told- off Lukwago and Mabirizi to stop politicizing public interest cases because we are nearing the election period maintaining that even though he has been transferred to Mbarara Highcourt, he will be coming back to Kampala to hear this case.
He has then ordered parties to file written submissions on which he will base is final decision.
Lukwago and Mabirizi filed a case while accusing EC chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama of illegally holding 2 government positions.
The applicants claim there is no evidence to show that Byabakama resigned his position as a justice of court of Appeal before accepting his new role as chair to the commission.
These also want the Secretary to the EC Sam Rwakoojo thrown out of office as his term of office expired in September 2019.
However, Both Justice Byabakama and Sam Rwakoojo have since filed responses before court while defending their positions with the former saying he is on a special assignment at the Electoral Commission.