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Sunday,November 18,2018 23:40 PM

Museveni struck off Makerere closure case

By Andante Okanya

Added 2nd May 2018 12:21 PM

“The Visitor [President Yoweri Museveni] is accordingly struck off the record under order 1 rule 10 of the civil procedure rules.”

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“The Visitor [President Yoweri Museveni] is accordingly struck off the record under order 1 rule 10 of the civil procedure rules.”

EDUCATION

KAMPALA - Court has dropped the name of President Yoweri Museveni in his capacity as ‘The Visitor’ in the Makerere University closure case.
 
The judgement of High Court judge Patricia Basaza-Wasswa, dated April 13, 2018, was delivered at the court’s civil division in Kampala. She said the Attorney General (AG) is legally mandated to shoulder burdens of the President.
 
“Any legal proceedings, in respect of any action or omission by The Visitor can only be taken out against the Attorney General as the proper party and not against a sitting President who is Head of State and Head of Government,” the judge ruled.
 
“The Visitor is accordingly struck off the record under order 1 rule 10 of the civil procedure rules.”
 
Basaza-Wasswa cited Article 98(1) and (4) of the Constitution, which emphasise that while holding office, the President shall not be liable to proceedings in any court.
 
But court rejected the AG’s request to dismiss the entire case on the basis that the university was reopened, with implication that the case had been overtaken by events.

The judge reasoned that the scope of case by the Makerere law students was wide, as it queries and raises serious issues of procedural impropriety.

The main case is an application for judicial review.

In legal language, such an application is conducted by the High Court to scrutinise queries of procedural impropriety, and decisions taken by subordinate courts and inferior tribunals or bodies.
 
Court rejected other preliminary objections raised by the AG's representative, senior state attorney Richard Adrole, and university lawyer Simon Anyuru.
 
Basaza-Wasswa agreed with the students' lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde.
 
Ssemakadde submitted that although the institution was reopened on January 17 last year, “live justiciable issues remain regarding the question of alleged illegality, impropriety or irrationality of the respondents' conduct in the closure of the university”.
 
Basaza-Wasswa emphasised: “I therefore agree with the submission of Mr Ssemakadde.I reject the argument of Mr Anyuru that there is no proof that the closure of the university will recur. That argument delves into the merits of the application and cannot be entertained at this stage.”
 
The main case will be heard by newly appointed judge Musa Sekaana.  A date for hearing is yet to be scheduled.
 

 

 

Background

On November 1, 2016, President Museveni ordered closure of Makerere University, on the prompting of a strike by lecturers and students. However, it was reopened on December 25, and students resumed studies on January 2.

Immediately after closure, six Law students petitioned court, challenging Museveni’s directive to close the institution in his capacity as The Visitor.
 
The aggrieved students are Sam Ssekyewa, Moses Mushime, Francis Kibombo, Cissy Nabatanzi, Emmanuel Kanyesigye and John Robert Turyakira.

They accuse the President of unlawfully bypassing the university council, which is the supreme organ of the university and the Ministry of Education and Sports, to issue the directive.

The students purport the university acted unlawfully and unjustifiably when it operationalised the directive, thereby failing to assert and safeguard its autonomy.

In his affidavit, Ssekyewa laments that  they were forcefully evicted from their halls and hostels of residence and given an ultimatum of up to 9am on November 2, to vacate the premises.

The students  claim the directive, which was "high-handedly" implemented was arrived at without prior adequate consultation with the university council, students, staff and other relevant stakeholders who were adversely affected.

 

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