By Edward Anyoli & Andante Okanya
John Manzi, a former student of Naalya SSS, is starting his law course at Makerere University with a dramatic legal victory over Makerere University.
On Thursday, the High Court in Kampala declared that the Public Universities Joint Admissions Board (PUJAB) is an illegal entity.
The court ordered Makerere University to admit Manzi for a bachelor’s degree in law on government scholarship. Court also ordered Makerere to pay him the cost of the legal suit.
Manzi passed A’ level with 19 points and also passed the law school’s pre-entry examination with 63%.
However, he was not admitted for the programme on grounds that he had not applied for it through the PUJAB. Instead, he was admitted for business administration on government sponsorship.
Manzi challenged this decision a month ago. Justice Yasin Nyanzi ruled that PUJAB was an illegal set-up since there was no statutory instrument or Act of Parliament that put it in place.
The judge, therefore, ruled that the university acted illegally by using PUJAB as a basis for denying Manzi a vacancy.
Justice Nyanzi noted that since Makerere could not show how PUJAB was created to handle admission of students to public universities and what legal instrument created it, it is, therefore, an illegal body for the purpose of admission.
Makerere Univesrsity had argued that Manzi faulted on the process of admission by not applying for Bachelors of Law through PUJAB, which is a requirement for all those seeking government sponsorship.
Makerere University lawyer Pope Ahimbisibwe had also argued that Manzi should have sued the Attorney General.
He said Makerere only admits students selected by the education ministry through PUJAB.
The Solicitor General, Francis Atoke, said his office will study the ruling before advising the education ministry.
“I cannot comment on this matter because I have not read the ruling,” Atoke noted.
However, Manzi’s lawyer, Oscar Kihika, said the ruling implies that PUJAB has been stripped of the powers to admit students for government sponsorship.
He argued that unless the legal status of PUJAB is rectified, A’ level candidates will in future have to apply to the different universities independently.
“This is a groundbreaking ruling because it has outlawed PUJAB and other students can as well come out to sue the university for damages,” he stated.
Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu yesterday said he would discuss with the university’s legal team on the prospects of lodging an appeal.
He insisted that Manzi did not apply for the Bachelor of Laws degree on government sponsorship.
“We are instructing our lawyers to appeal. The most important thing is that the student did not apply for the law course,” Ssentamu said.
Education expert Fagil Mandy said; “I cannot comment on that because I do not know the status of that body (PUJAB).”