By our reporter
There is one man in the mirror of Ugandans, a day after the constitutional court sitting in the eastern town of Mbale ruled on Thursday night that the removal of age limits in the Uganda constitution by Parliament was done according to the law, but, threw out the seven year extension of the term of parliament. The Judge’s shoulders stood above the rest was a break away star, who skinned parliament, and the speaker, police and army, for behaving like Uganda was ending with them.
Twitter burst with his harshtags and photographs, hailing Justice Kenneth Kakuru as the “conscience of the nation” for his bold but advocacy ruling which was rooted in the history of Uganda’s turbulent past.
Four to One, the bench of the constitutional court justices led by deputy chief justice Alphonse Owiny Dollo, ruled that parliament was within the law to scrap article 106b which confined the presidency candidate to be aged between 35 and 75. Only Kakuru dissented. For him, the entire constitutional amendment should be thrown out with costs to the petitioners.
The dissenting judgment has made the heated debate in the country, although in fact his ruling was not very much different from the rest of justices, who actually offered very sober examination of issues at hand.
The 60-year-old Kakuru’s judgment has been lauded as a landmark dissenting judgment that will echo loud and repeatedly cited in the annals of Ugandan jurisprudence.
He warned MPs on senseless legislation, rather to take their job seriously.
He said, “Parliament could as well abolish the Judiciary, vote to remove the republic of Uganda and make themselves Parliamentarians for life. The argument that you can vote to amend any article of the Constitution by simple majority is misguided.”
He concluded that constitution amendment was only aimed at allowing President Museveni another go at office.
Quoting scholars, including Abu Mayanja, Kakuru said the constitution should not be changed like grass thatched huts.
In anchoring his reasoning in our political and constitutional history, Justice Kakuru demonstrates an understanding of why the ammendment was indeed not just a tinkering with the law but rather a repeat of our dark constitutional days.
Justice Kakuru, may history be kind to you and your family, the country and our generation might have been robbed of the opportunity to witness change, but your judgement will remain with us forever
Silver Kayondo @SilverKayondo: Thank you Justice Kakuru. You remain the conscience of our Constitutional Court. Kenya’s Constitutional re-birth had “Wanjiku”. Uganda’s Constitutional re-birth will be midwife by farmers, boda-bodas, market vendors etc. May we never forget their plight. Their voice matters too!
However Kakuru cautioned the police to uphold the dignity of citizens. “Police in Uganda has no right to frogmarch Ugandans which we routinely see them doing. The attorney general must ensure that this stops.” He said. The Justice went through the history of Uganda, citing the Coup that brought Gen Idi Amin to power, cautiously reading all the 18 reasons that led to the coup as given by organizers.
He also went ahead to quote @KagutaMuseveni ‘s ‘Sowing the Mustard Seed’. He said between 1980 and 1985, Uganda was plunged into unrest until Museveni led a group of army and seized power before making a “number of promises to the then hopeless Ugandans”.
However, not everyone was happy with Justice Kakuru.
Who is Justice Kakuru
Kakuru studied law at Makerere University where he attained both his bachelors and masters degrees. He also obtained his Diploma in legal practice from the Law Development Centre.
The Justice also has another master’s degree in Education Policy Planning and Development from Kyambogo University.
Kakuru founded his law firm of Kakuru & Company Advocates, in 1987 in Kampala and has established a reputation as an environmental rights attorney and an expert in public interest litigation.
In May 2013, Kakuru was appointed directly to the Uganda Court of Appeal. He is also an associate professor at the Uganda Pentecostal University, based in Fort Portal, Kabarole District and an external examiner at the Law Development Center.