DP’S MEDARD SEGONA IN THINGS AS HIS MENTOR B’MES NEW PJ
By Mulengera Reporters
Medard Segona, the outspoken opposition MP for Busiro East, must be having the happiest weekend ever after his mentor and friend Justice Flavian Zeija becoming the new Principal Judge. He will be replacing much revered Yerokam Bamwine who is bowing out next month on the account of age.
As PJ, relatively younger Zeija will be number three in the Judiciary hierarchy only after CJ and Deputy CJ. In practice he is the head of the High Court and his office is the one to which all service delivery-related concerns from aggrieved members of the public regarding the conduct of work by the more 60 High Court judges serving at different circuits across the country are reported. He is in charge of everything regarding the conduct of business by judges. But the appointment of Zeija means different things to different people and for purposes of our story, we want to submit that it’s good news for opposition shadow Justice & Constitutional Affairs Minister Medard Lubega Segona. And here is why.
Years ago, long before Segona became Buganda Kingdom Minister which propelled him into the limelight, he lectured at the Mubs’ Business Law department which Zeija headed. Counsel James Akampumuza was their overall boss as the Dean Faculty of Commerce under which their department falls.
Segona did this Mubs lecturing as he worked as a private advocate under Lukwago & Co Advocates. He had very good relationship with Dr. Zeija who was his immediate boss and this went on for quite long. He only ceased teaching at the Nakawa-based Mubs after becoming very busy with the campaigning for the Busiro East MP Seat which he captured in 2011 with the backing of Col Kizza Besigye, Semujju Nganda, Betty Nambooze, Muwanga Kivumbi and other giants in the Suubi Group. Now that his mentor and longtime friend is the new PJ, it’s only natural to assume a lot will get better and easier for him as an advocate of the High Court and a rising leader in this country.
Yet Segona is evidently not the only lawyer that will perceive Zeija’s rise to the PJ office as good news. Several other lawyers we spoke to were unanimous in saying that, much as Bamwine was a colossus not easy to replace, Zeija isn’t far from being a perfect replacement.
Mulengera News actually understands that about a month ago, President Museveni found time to discuss the matter with CJ Bart Katurebe and Yerokam Bamwine (two Judiciary elders he greatly respects). In that meeting, Museveni (who had already spoken over the same with Justice Benjamin Kabito whose JSC handles the competitive recruitment) secured the duo’s concurrence that Zeija was the best man for the position of PJ which, before Bamwine was occupied by Justice James Ogoola.
That notwithstanding, Zeija’s appointment has taken some by surprise because he was favored and considered ahead of longer serving judges like Duncan Gaswaga under whom he served as Deputy Resident judge in Mbarara before replacing him as head of the area Court circuit. Prior to that Zeija, who is barely 5 years on the bench, had started out at Masaka Court circuit where he served under John Eudes Keitirima.
He no doubt has an illustrious profile but has relatively not spent that much time doing judiciary work. His resume briefly reads as follows; head of Mubs Business Law department (2007-2009), Mubs Council member representing staff (2004-2012), graduate studies don on the LLM program at UCU (2014-2016) and actively practiced law as an advocate of the High Court operating under Zeija Mukasa & Co Advocates (1998-2003) and was also company secretary for FINCA Uganda Ltd. Zeija, who is also an authority on insurance matters and the relevant laws, graduated from Law School and LDC in the 1990s. In contrast the Bamwine he is replacing has worked in the judiciary for close to 40 years and had been many things before becoming PJ (just like Ogoola).
Much as it could be reason for some MPs to block his posting, the limited time he has served in the judiciary hasn’t prevented some lawyers to welcome his appointment as timely and well-merited. One of them, speaking anonymously, said “Justice Zeija has the appropriate academic qualifications and the relevant administrative and people-management experience.” The same lawyer described him as “well composed, knowledgeable and down to earth enough to listen and learn very fast.” He is also well-intentioned and a strict disciplinarian, one of the key qualities required for one to make good PJ. He did his PhD in law at Dar es Salaam University hence the title Dr Flavian Zeija. He is as humorous as Yerokam Bamwine he is taking over from.
From within the Judiciary those who have closely encountered him say the PJ job is enormous but they are convinced given his humility and team-building skills, Zeija (who hails from Ankole) will manage. He has so far exhibited good leadership credentials, some judiciary insiders say, to the extent that the Mbarara circuit he has been overseeing has registered improved service delivery notwithstanding the vastness of the geographical area it covers. Under that circuit are many Chief Magisterial areas falling under Greater Bushenyi, Kiruhura and other places that have been designated for elevation to High Court but which hasn’t yet been operationalized.
“He is very respectful and unlike the Bamwines who became PJ in old age, Zeija is relatively younger and could stably serve as PJ for 15 years or more before clocking retirement age,” said a judiciary insider. As he eases out of the PJ job there is near certainty that Bamwine (hailing from Bushenyi) will lead a good retirement life because he is wealthy, with a lot of cattle on top of the fact that his children are gainfully employed mothered by a spouse who is equally gainfully employed at Bank of Uganda.
Besides the new PJ, President Museveni has also endorsed JSC recommendation to post three judges to the Supreme Court to fill the vacuum likely to result from the exit of Jotham Tumwesigye, Augustine Nshimye and later on Bart Katureebe the CJ whose tenure ends in June 2020. The lucky new Supreme Court Justices are Night Tuhaise (former Deputy Director and PRO LDC) and Ezekiel Muhanguzi who, like Tuhaise has been a Justice of the Court of Appeal. The 3rd one is DPP Mike Chibita whose departure from heading the office of Public Prosecutor has excited many lawyers who always considered his performance as not very good as DPP.
The likes of Erias Lukwago, Nkunyingi Muwadda and even Isaac Semakadde have always disputed the reasons and intent for which the ODPP has always taken over private prosecution matters only to eventually kill the case leaving the original aggrieved complainants with no remedy whatsoever because Article 120 gives the DPP absolute powers when it comes to prosecution of all criminal matters.
Only recently, Wakiso residents who use the Nabweru Magistrates Court cried out to PJ Yerokam Bamwine, during a court open day, asking him to prompt the DPP to go out and hear their grievances against people running the public prosecutors office in their area whom they described as too inept, indifferent and inefficient to hold public office in the 21st century. There are wide spread concerns that much as Chibita is personally a good man, there hasn’t been adequate supervision of the State Attorneys supposed to prosecute cases in lower courts.
The successful three were part of the original 13 that JSC had shortlisted for elevation to Supreme Court. The other 10 are Justices Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Elizabeth Musoke, Hellen Obura, Cheborion Barishiraki, Stephen Musota, Joseph Murangira, Henry Peter Atim Adonyo, Charles Wacha Angulo, ex-IGG Raphael Baku and Catherine Bamugemereire who knowledgeable insiders say still stands chance not just to join the Supreme Court but become CJ someday. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).