Kadaga Defies Court, Calls Oil Bonus Order ‘Stupid' Top story

4199 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Kadaga, who this evening chaired a rather charged up plenary sitting, out rightly, dismissed the injunction allowing Mbarara Municipality MP, Michael Tusiime, to table a motion calling for a House committee to investigate circumstances under which the officers received payments.

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has directed the Attorney General to vacate a court order barring Parliament from debating handouts to government officials involved in a tax arbitration case between Uganda and Heritage Oil.

The order issued by Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma came a day before an anticipated motion on the bonanza in which 42 top government officials shared 6 billion Shillings for helping Uganda secure USD 400 million  (1.4 trillion Shillings) in capital gains tax from Heritage's sale of its stake to Tullow Oil.

The payment, now referred to the presidential handshake, has attracted sharp criticism from the public, MPs and civil society among other sections of the public. But Justice Kavuma ordered that any debate on the matter be halted pending hearing of a petition filed by lawyer Eric Sabiiti.

However, Kadaga, who this evening chaired a rather charged up plenary sitting, out rightly dismissed the injunction allowing Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime to table a motion calling for a probe into circumstances under which the officials received payments.

"I cannot accept a situation where a court dictates on how we shall speak in this House, on how we shall write the order paper... that is unacceptable. So honorable members, I want to direct the Attorney General to move to court immediately and get this 'stupid' court order vacated."

While lawmakers unanimously cheered her on, Kadaga described the action of Justice Kavuma as a gross violation of the doctrine of separation of powers, aimed at frustrating Parliament's work, including passing the budget.

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Kadaga had earlier informed the House that the court order was served to Parliament after the session had already started proceedings, which violates Section 4 of the Parliament Powers and Privileges Act on serving the House while in session.

Section 4 of the Parliament Powers and Privileges Act stipulated that no process issued by any court in Uganda in the exercise of its civil jurisdiction shall be served or executed within the precincts of Parliament while Parliament is sitting or through the Speaker, the clerk or any officer of Parliament.

The bitter Kadaga says court has set itself up on a bad precedence, seen to block Parliament's independence.
 
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Earlier, Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana had raised a point of procedure on Parliament going ahead with the motion, instead inviting heckles and jeers from legislators.
 
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Several MPs including Prof Morris Ogenga Latigo, Leader of Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kiiza, Jacob Oboth and Isaac Musumba described the court order as an insult from the Judiciary.
 
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The House has been adjourned indefinitely.

 

About the author

Olive Eyotaru
Olive Eyotaru is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Eyotaru has been a URN staff member since February 2015.

Eyotaru started practising journalism while still studying at Uganda Christian University. She was a reporter with Ultimate Media Consult Ltd between 2005 and 2007.

In 2009, Eyotaru joined Monitor Publications Limited, under KFM Radio as a parliamentary and business reporter. Consequently, Eyotaru started writing for the Daily Monitor newspaper until January 2015, when she moved to URN.

She is interested in reporting about politics, health, human rights, business and sports.