Kampala. President Museveni yesterday summoned Chief Justice Bart Katureebe to Entebbe State House, but the reasons for the summoning were not readily established.
The Chief Justice had to abruptly abandon the ongoing annual Judges Conference in Kampala to rush to State House to meet the President.
“My lords the Deputy Chief Justice and Principal Judge, you will forgive me as I won’t be able to attend your presentations as State duty has called.
I am heading to Entebbe now,” Chief Justice Katureebe told fellow judges and left the conference hall to head to Entebbe yesterday morning.
Reasons why the President called the Chief Justice to State House remained unclear by press time yesterday.
However, the summons came barely two days after the President kicked up a storm when he rejected calls by the judiciary for recruitment of more judges with the Chief Justice subsequently saying it is the citizens who will pay the ultimate price if the President’s decision is followed.
The Senior Presidential Press Secretary, Mr Don Wanyama, said the meeting between the President and the Chief Justice had been scheduled long before Mr Museveni met the judges on Monday.
He downplayed the speculation that the Chief Justice had been called to State House following his response to the President’s objection to recruitment of new judges.
“It’s a meeting scheduled long ago and it’s not only the Chief Justice. Other government officials are involved,” Mr Wanyama said.
However, this does not explain why the Chef Justice would abruptly announce his departure from a conference he was chairing for the State House meeting if it had long been scheduled with his knowledge.
On Tuesday, the Chief Justice said the President’s objection to recruiting more judges would hurt Ugandans because it would take a long time for the litigants to receive justice.
“The consequences of the recruitment ban on more judges will entirely affect the people who are the consumers of justice. Given the circumstances, we shall work within our means,” the Chief Justice told Daily Monitor in an interview on Tuesday, a day after the President’s snub.
While opening the annual Judges Conference on Monday, President Museveni rejected Justice Katureebe’s plea to provide resources to recruit more judges and tackle the monstrous case backlog in the Judiciary.
The President instead advised that government would rather pay the few serving judicial officers better than recruit new numbers.
“So if you don’t have, what are you going to do because if you don’t prioritise at the strategic level, you will fail because you don’t have enough resources. I can tell you this.
Therefore, rather than insisting on numbers and more numbers when you are not able to manage them, I would rather concentrate on remunerating the ones we have and then see how to manage other shortages,” President Museveni told the judges.
His announcement upset judicial officers who later said they were considering to scale down their work.
By Daily Monitor