The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) sitting in Arusha dismissed with costs a case which was filed by Ugandan Lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi challenging the upholding of Age Limit Amendment.
Judges Monica Mugenyi, Charles Nyawello and Charles Nyachae, ruled that the said amendments were done in accordance with Ugandan constitution and that the Supreme Court acted within the law when it threw out the appeal resulting from the same.
“The process leading to the enactment of that law, as well as the Constitutional Court’s judgment in respect thereof are adjudged to have been time-barred, having fallen prey to the two-month time limit prescribed in Article 30(2) of the Treaty. However, the Supreme Court’s judgment was properly placed before the Court, the Reference having been lodged well within that time frame.”
On the ground that Justice Stella Arach Amoko had conflict of interest in the matter, court ruled that there was no proof that the applicant Male Mabirizi presented to her an application for recusal as required in Ugandan laws.
“We find no evidence on record either that the judge’s spouse serves in the capacity of Ambassador as alleged.”
On being segregated by the justices of constitutional court basing on the sitting arrangement (allocating him a sit away from the bar) as Mabirizi alleged, the judges at EACJ pointed out that the laws are very clear on who should sit at the bar.
“Justices of the Supreme Court did justify the seating arrangements allocated to the Applicant on the very logical premise that presence at the Bar was the preserve of barristers and enrolled advocates. It is not indicative of bias that alternative sitting arrangements would be made for a self-represented party cum lawyer that is not qualified to practice his trade before the courts.”
This court also upheld the decision of not awarding Mabirizi costs for the suit despite of the fact all other applicants were awarded by the Ugandan courts.
These insisted that the legal fees were for advocates well as Mabirizi was given audience as a self-represented litigant not advocate or lawyer.
“On the other hand, the professional fees that were awarded by the Constitutional Court were in respect of the professional legal services that had been rendered to the designated petitions in the public interest (public interest litigation).”
This court ruled that Mabirizi filed the application with in time and this court had jurisdiction to hear this matter.
Commenting about this court decision, Mabirizi said it was a win-win situation since he won three grounds and lost three.
“The gate has been widely flung opened for whoever is not satisfied with the decision of his/her Country’s superior Courts to challenge the same in terms of The East African Community Treaty. ”
Mabirizi said for years now many advocates have been misleading their clients that the decision from Supreme court of Uganda cannot be appealed against.
“It is upon that I am constrained to inform you that I am planning to appeal to The Appellate Division of the East African Court of Justice.”
He added that although many will laugh at him but he has to exhaust all the avenues available in seeking Justice and rule of law.