Male Mabirizi has instituted private criminal charges against 16 newly appointed High Court Justices. They are Singiza Douglas Karekona, Samuel Emokor, Thomas Ocaya, Allan Paul Mbabazi Nshimye, Collins Acellam, George Okello, Bernard Namanya, Susan Kanyange, Flavia Matovu Nasuuna, Mary Ikit, Christine Kaahwa, Patricia Mutesi , Patricia Asiimwe, Faridah Shamilah Bukirwa, Celia Nagawa, and Harriet Grace Magala.
On May 25, 2022, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni named the justices to serve in an acting capacity, based on what the Judicial Service Commission had said. The judges were sworn in on August 12th, 2022 before the appointing authority. But in his lawsuit, which he filed with the Entebbe Chief Magistrate’s court, Mabirizi says that the judges are taking illegal oats and are a nuisance to everyone.
He says that the accused people, who are all lawyers and adults of sound mind, took illegal oaths of allegiance and judicial oaths on August 12, 2022, at State House Entebbe in Wakiso District, even though they knew they had not been appointed as High Court Justices or approved by Parliament.
The procedure has always been that judges appointed by the President go through Parliament for vetting before they are cleared to take their judicial oath. But this, Mabirizi says, was not the case with this group. He says that the accused’s decision to take the oaths of allegiance and judicial oaths as judges of the High Court without being appointed and approved by Parliament was against the law and caused trouble for the public.
He now wants the court to issue criminal summons against the accused persons to answer the charges that attract a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment. In addition to this criminal case, Mabirizi has also filed a civil suit against the Judicial Service Commission and the Attorney General in the High Court in Kampala. He wants the appointments of the affected justices to be cancelled and for it to be said that the positions they are in are empty because they were appointed illegally.
In June 2022, Makerere University lecturer Dr. Kabumba Busingye, together with lawyer Andrew Karamagi, petitioned the Constitutional Court in Kampala seeking to declare the appointments of the 16 High Court Judges in acting capacity illegal. They say that the appointments made on an interim basis go against several parts of the Constitution, such as the Supreme Court’s independence.
“This kind of conditional appointment violates the supremacy of the Constitution, the security of tenure of judges, and the independence of the Judiciary, as the said officers are likely to do their jobs out of fear of retribution, expectation of favor, or both,” Kabumba wrote in his petition, which has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. Mabirizi is currently serving an 18-month jail term in Luzira prison handed to him for contempt of court. His petitions are often filed by lawyers who work with him but don’t want to be named, supposedly for their own safety, even though Mabirizi writes and signs them himself.