By Raymond Baguma
Former Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki has said he will honour and respect Uganda’s Constitution and continue serving the country as long as he is healthy.
Odoki has recently been at the centre of public debate following President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to reappoint him on a two year contract even after his retirement.
However, opponents to the reappointment say that it contravenes Article 144 (1) (a) of the constitution which bars any person aged 70 years and above to be appointed or to act as Chief Justice.
The Uganda Law Society is seeking to challenge the legality of the reappointment of Odoki; and on Thursday resolved to write to Odoki asking him to reject the appointment. They are also to petition Parliament to decline Odoki’s approval.
But in a veiled response on Friday, Justice Odoki said, “I am still firm and solid. I still love my country and as long as I have energy, I promise to serve my country.”
Odoki was speaking at a ceremony to install the state minister for water Betty Bigombe as a goodwill ambassador for Always Be Tolerant (ABETO) in Kampala.
ABETO is a non-governmental organization that promotes values of peace and democracy. The NGO organizes peace awards to personalities that are instrumental in upholding and promoting peace in Africa.
Justice Odoki said that he is a strong believer in constitutionalism to which he has spent a considerable amount of time of his life promoting, and contributed to the formulation of the 1995 Constitution.
“I want to assure Ugandans that I will respect it until I go to my grave. I also urge all Ugandans to respect the constitution,” Odoki added.
Bigombe was installed goodwill ambassador in recognition of her role in pacifying northern Uganda as well as initiating contact with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony for peace talks.
Odoki who is also a goodwill ambassador of ABETO said, “I have the fullest trust that the involvement of Betty Bigombe as ABETO’s goodwill ambassador will be of great value to ABETO and the nation as a whole. She has a brilliant track record of serving this country in various capacities.”
The ABETO chairman Moses Musana noted that the recent action by the Uganda Law Society to suspend Attorney General Peter Nyombi from the professional body was disrespectful and demonstrated intolerance.