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Mabirizi lays down arguments for petitioning against age limit judgement

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COURT | Male Hassan Mabirizi, one of the petitioners who challenged and lost the ‘age limit’ Constitutional Amendment Act of 2017, has filed in the Supreme Court arguments he will use once the hearing of the appeal gets under way.

In July, Four of the five members of the Constitutional Court; Cheborion Barishaki, Elizabeth Musoke, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo and Remmy Kasule, upheld the amendment when they said that it did not contravene the Constitution and neither did it contravene parliament’s rules of procedure.

But sticking to his maverick reputation, Justice Kenneth Kakuru declared that the entire process was flawed and asked that the entire amendment Act be purged from the Constitution of Uganda.

Now in his skeleton arguments which are a follow- up to the memorandum of appeal he filed August, Mabirizi has listed six issues which from form the crux of his arguments before the highest court in the country.

In issue number one, Mabirzi accuses the Constitutional Court of failing to hold that the amendment that caused political upheaval was not prohibited by article 93 of the constitution.

In Constitutional Court, which sat in the High Court found in the eastern town of Mbale, Mabirizi contended that the purported decision of government to issue a certificate of compliance in regard to the so called Magyezi-Bill was inconsistent with and in contravention of Article 93.

Though strong submissions were made proving that article 93 prohibited the entire amendment process, Mabirizi claims that the justices who had what he terms as predetermined minds, ruled to the contrary.

“Dollo DCJ evaded resolving the question of prohibition,” reads Mabirizi’s arguments in reference to Owiny-Dollo the Deputy Chief Justice, “And other justices concentrated on the 29 million paid to the member of parliament and proposals by Tumusiime.”

‘Derogating right to fair hearing’

In his second issue, Mabirzi — who is lawyer but not an advocate since he has never interested himself in pursuing the Law Bar course — accuses the five judges of derogating his right to fair hearing.

According to Mabirizi the move by the judges to make him stand in the witness box instead of sitting with other lawyers at the bar amounted to denying him a right to fair hearing guaranteed by the constitution.

He alleges that the Constitutional Court in its judgment admitted that such a move was “breaching rules of fair hearing.”

Still under the second issue, Mabirizi accuses the five justices of excessively interrupting lawyers when they were submitting which according to him derogated a right to fair hearing and subsequently he says turned the justices into “defence counsels.”

“The justices were duty bound to patiently enable parties present their case,” he says adding that the actions of the Constitutional Court led by Owiny-Dollo were contrary to international conventions
and principles.

If his skeleton arguments are to by, he intends to accuse the first court of flouting the rules governing cross-examination, proposing answers to witnesses and also stopping him from cross-examining witnesses.

“The interference by Justice Owiny-Dollo was well intended to cover –up the truth that General Muhoozi’s affidavit was never sworn,” he says without expounding further.

In his arguments which he ferried on truck, Mabirizi intends to argue that the Constitutional Court imported issues and remedies into the judgment which were not pleaded for by any of the parties in the case.

“Court’s marking of a decision on its own invented points is contrary to fair hearing principles, rules of procedure and Supreme Court decided cases,” the arguments go on.

It’s not yet clear when the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe will be forming the panel of seven justices to hear the appeals, with other being filed by opposition Members of Parliament.

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