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Tribute to the Late Principal Judge Herbert Ntabgoba

By Duncan Ondimu, O.G.W

It’s in times like this one does not find the words to describe such a Gentleman of such huge stature with a big heart, a legal icon, and a judicial officer who lived to the words of the judicial oath.

I came to meet the Late Judge back in 2003 during my first year as a law student at the Kampala International University – Uganda.

I and my fellow students were introduced to the Hon. Judge by our then Dean at the Faculty of Law, Mr. Edgar Tabaro (Advocate). The Late Judge was our Law Society Patron.

Our class 2002 – 2006 were the pioneers of the Law Faculty at the University.

Due to being a Pioneer class, we faced so many challenges but Justice Ntabgoba remained always a person in the legal world we would always rely on.

The challenges we faced were from the stringent accreditation process to limited library facilitates.

The Late Judge was always there for us, he allowed us to use the High Court library for free whenever we wanted to.

I do remember one time we wanted to photocopy a huge number of cases.

I remember I and one of my classmates went to his Chambers at the High Court building, the Judge welcomes us as he had always done.

We then walked through the High Court corridors to the library, he handed the list of the cases we wanted to one of the Librarian and he then requested that they make copies of the same.

The PJ paid for entire cost of photocopying. As a student that was such a huge relief.

As our Patron at the University Law Society, he rarely missed any of our functions.

He always supported us with cash and ideas whenever we organized functions.

We always frequented his Chambers and there is no single day we were ever turned away.

I am sure most of trips, our then Dean wasn’t aware of them.

I remember PJ sharing his experiences with ARIPO and his keen interest in Intellectual Property.

His insights in intellectual property was always illuminating.

Hon. Judge always emphasized to us, to always ensure we protect the rule of law. He always encouraged us to take our studies seriously.

On a more personal level, the Judge was a mentor.

I remember after my completion of studies at Law Development Centre, the Judge graciously agreed to be my referee on my CV. That was such huge honour.

I remember visiting his office at Kampala Associated Advocate offices, located at the former Kenya’s High Commission offices. We discussed at length what my plans were after admission.

I remember he encouraged me to pursue different legal areas but later specialize in one that I’ll find suitable.

The death of PJ Ntabgoba has robbed me of a mentor, a gentleman I always looked up to.

It is sad I cannot be able to bid him farewell during the burial due to the prevailing circumstances (COVID-19).

I pray that the Gracious Lord comfort his family and rest his soul in eternal peace.

The author is the Principal Prosecution Counsel – ODPP, Kenya

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