KAMPALA – A section of Ugandans of Asian descent being targeted by the current parliamentary probe have petitioned the Attorney General, protesting a blatant contempt of Court, breach of the Law and the subjudice rule by the Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), the Departed Asians’ Property Custodian Board (DAPCB) and George William Bizibu in his individual capacity.
In the new petition to the Attorney General William Byaruhanga, the petitioners involving Mohammed Allibhai, Navinchandra Kakubhai Radia, Praful Patel, Pradip Nandlal Karia, Minex Nandlal Kari, and others through their lawyers of Akampumuza & Co. Advocates have protested a reported visit to Canada and United Kingdom by COSASE, purportedly to look for former owners of Asian properties to verify letters of repossession, in disregard of a Constitutional Court petition challenging the probe.
“While Bizibu and DFAPCB are part of the Parliamentary delegation, our clients were never invited to travel along for obvious reasons. The above acts as evidence of how far your officials are ready to go to undermine the constitutional court unhindered,” the Group’s protest by Akampumuza & Co. Advocates reads.
“This does not board well for the rule of law as it is willful, a flagrant breach of the subjudice rule and therefore contempt of court being conducted by the very Parliament and Executive which are mandated to preserve and protect the constitution.
The group earlier petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging broad daylight abuse of human rights and inconsistent actions of the COSASE.
According to the petition, the group sought to seek orders to put an end to the COSASE probe terming the inquiry as abuse on powers of the judiciary.
The petition, filed before the Constitutional Court last year, awaits hearing but has been ignored by the committee, who are pushing on with the inquiry, raising a red flag.
Key among the issues the group raised is that the COSASE probe is merely targeting is solely based on their race, color, and ethnic origin and also questioned Parliament’s sudden interest in Asian properties despite the fact that the Legislative body has no proprietary interest in the repossessed property saying the decision contravenes sections in the constitution.
The petitioners castigated Parliament for singling them out as a specific category of Ugandans citizens of Asian descent who repossessed, manage, purchased and or inherited private property for dispossessing and canceling their certificates of repossession and titles while leaving out persons of other nationalities who similarly reposed or purchased repossessed private property contravenes the constitution.
The team also protested the move by Parliament to reverse the repossession exercise, selling off properties and the Board continuing to hold out to be the land controlling authority the body mandated to take over the remaining unclaimed expropriated Asian properties which the Minister appointed by gazetting which extinguished the Board substratum and the inaction of the Uganda Land Commission is inconsistent with articles 91(1), 92,155(1), 154(1), 238 and 239 of the constitution.
“Despite the petition having been duly served, you have left the respondent for whom you are acting parallel to the constitutional Court, in blatant breach of the subjudice rule. Shockingly is that William Bizibu, from the DAPCB is the main architect and an active participant in the Parliamentary proceedings when he is not a Member of Parliament,” the petitioners noted.
“What is even more bizarre is the Parliament’s insistence that is invoking its powers of the High Court to summon witnesses and enforce their attendance. The power to summon witnesses doesn’t confer adjudicatory powers of the high court which is a constitutional mandate,” the group noted adding that the matter is subjudice under Article 28 (1) (2) (3) and 92 of the constitution and Parliament is obliged to respect court and that besides, the powers of the High Court cannot be used to override the exclusive jurisdiction, powers of the Constitutional Court.
“Neither is a party to a suit at liberty to continue collecting evidence is a matter which is under challenge including going out of jurisdiction to undermine the court.”
In those circumstances, the group insists that it cannot be privy to nor participate in the offensive proceedings as they continue being pestered to do and that the summons to produce documents to the parliament committee can only wait for the adjudication of matters in controversy before the Constitutional Court.