GEN MUNTU’S MAN ABDUL KATUNTU DEFENDS DOLLO SAYING BOBI IS JUST BEING ARROGANT & UNREASONABLE
By Mulengera Reporters
Abdul Katuntu, a strong ally of Gen Mugisha Muntu from Bugweri, has this Saturday morning vehemently defended the manner in which the Chief Justice Alfonse Owinyi Dollo has conducted the business at the Supreme Court thus far regarding the Robert Kyagulanyi petition. Agreeing with Elson Karuhanga, one of Kampala’s most eloquent lawyers representing the EC, during the Saturday Capital Gang program, Katuntu asserted that before anyone gets angry at the judiciary there are constraints which ought to be understood including the fact that Dollo and the other Justices strictly have only 45 days within which to deliver their full judgment (not just a summary).
Karuhanga, with whom Katuntu agreed, had said many things contradicting the falsehoods which Kyagulanyi has been uttering at his news conferences clearly demonizing the Supreme Court which the long-serving Bugweri County MP sharply criticized the NUP Supremo for. For instance, Karuhanga illustrated that it wasn’t true that the Supreme Court had gagged or constrained Kyagulanyi more than it did to ex-Premier Amama Mbabazi in 2016 when he petitioned challenging Gen Museveni’s victory.
Karuhanga asserted that the two decisions (allowing Mbabazi to amend his petition in 2016 and disallowing Kyagulanyi in 2021) were clearly distinguishable illustrating that whereas JPAM was restricted to giving evidence strictly relating to the grounds he had pleaded, after being permitted to do certain amendments, Kyagulanyi had been allowed to submit all the evidence he had in order to corroborate his initial grounds as opposed to amending the petition. “Whereas Hon Mbabazi was given a cheque with figures written therein, Hon Kyagulanyi was given a blank cheque and it was up to him to write there whatever amount,” Karuhanga said insisting that Dollo’s Supreme Court had actually been more lenient to Kyagulanyi than any other petitioner since 2001 when Dr. Besigye first petitioned.
Speaking immediately after, Katuntu began by sympathizing with the NUP petitioner (whose lawyer George Musisi was in studio too) by saying that, with his two applications seeking to amend the petition and the other seeking to be allowed to file more affidavits being disallowed, the budding politician from Magere was left with a clearly frustrated case hence making withdrawal inevitable and the only viable option. That because the standard of evidence required to satisfy the substantiality test is clearly too high, there is no way Kyagulanyi’s lawyers would successfully prosecute the petition with merely 51 affidavits which had already been filed and responded to by the respondents. He asserted that withdrawing from a clearly collapsing petition process was the most prudent thing the Kyagulanyi team could do because, without adducing adequate evidence, it was clear their petition would end in total fiasco.
Katuntu, whose protégé Suleiman Kakaire was part of the Kyagulanyi legal team, then proceeded to register his disagreements and reservations. That it was improper and unbecoming for the NUP leader to resort to using press conferences to incite his mob against the Justices of the Supreme Court simply because they ruled against his two applications. Saying challenging presidential election results wasn’t as easy as the NUP Supremo could have thought, Katuntu (who was part of KB’s petition legal team in 2001) said it was okay to attack a decision of any court by pointing out areas or aspects that make it factually or legally erroneous but simply unacceptable for anyone to target individual judicial officers like Kyagulanyi has been doing.
The man from Bugweri went on to say that he wasn’t prepared to take seriously any politician who makes crude attacks against the judiciary without substantiating anything. To him, there isn’t anything Justice Dollo has done thus far to merit the rudimentary media and social media attacks Kyagulanyi and his crowd have been unleashing on him. As the other panelists namely Semujju Nganda and Mary Nanfuuka protested, Katuntu said there can never be circumstances under which such unprovoked attacks on judicial officers can ever be justified in a democratic Uganda. He also agreed with Elson Karuhanga that the only alternative to Dollo’s justice would be mob justice which, to him, is the euphemism of the “court of public opinion” that Kyagulanyi has been praising and calling on his crowd to embrace.
Katuntu agreed with Karuhanga that the Kyagulanyi public court can only lead to absurd outcomes similar to the mob that unfairly condemned Jesus Christ leading to his crucifixion even when he was an innocent man as we now all know. The two lawyers implored Kyagulanyi and others who think like him to prioritize pushing for amendments of the law through Parliament as opposed to inappropriately turning their anger at Dollo and the judiciary. The millions of Capital Gang listeners were told of the section that introduces the substantiality requirement when it comes to Ugandan legal practice when it comes to challenging presidential election results.
The two lawyers asserted that the substantiality requirement was never enacted into existence by the Judiciary but by Parliament where Kyagulanyi sits [in Section 56(6) of the relevant law]. To overcome that, the duo submitted, you don’t attack the judges but you use your numbers in Parliament to lobby Parliament to amend the same. That instead of wasting time arguing that some laws have to be defied just like Apartheid or even Slavery was, the Kyagulanyi adherents should advocate for revision of such laws because however bad, as long it is the one in place, the law is the law and has to be obeyed as is or else consequences will ensue.
That in the Kenyan case, the Supreme Court was able to annul Uhuru Kenyatta’s elections, while agreeing with petitioner Raila Odinga, because they don’t have that substantiality requirement in their election disputes resolution laws (the same having been deleted by Parliament). Katuntu also rejected demands by some Kyagulanyi supporters that in dictatorships like Museveni-led Uganda, Judges need to be helpful by engaging in some judicial activism. His honest view is that requiring such amounts to turning judges into legislators yet the work of making the law resides with Parliament though the judiciary can make recommendations on what deserves to be amended for better dispensation of justice.
Katuntu also advised the public to exercise maximum caution before embracing such calls by Kyagulanyi imploring them to use the social media space to make life hard for Dollo and other Supreme Court judges. He argued that the Kyagulanyi hostilities were deliberate and aimed at demonizing the court system while making the same illegitimate and non-functional. Katuntu, who was in charge of collecting evidence and commissioning affidavits to bolster KB’s 2001 petition in the whole of Eastern Uganda, asserted that declaring mob war on the judiciary (as Kyagulanyi impliedly recommended) can only lead to very absurd outcomes including destruction of the whole country turning it into a failed state, an escalation which all Ugandans have an obligation to guard against.
“Actually such blanket accusations [against the Judiciary] don’t augur well for democracy and this quoting of anonymous men on the street to make a political point can’t be the way leaders do things in this country.” Katuntu asserted that prudent leadership requires leaders to diagnose the country or society’s problems correctly and in the case of Uganda, it’s indicative of incompetent leadership for anyone to perceive judges as the problem as opposed to having a broader perspective which requires realizing that for the complex election disputes-related laws to change, its Parliament (not the judges) that must do its work which is to amend laws which have become obsolete, unhelpful and inefficient. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at email@example.com).