Opposition MPs take Age Limit battle to the Supreme Court

MPs Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality), Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality), Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) Jonathan Odur (Erute North), former Leader of Opposition in Parliament Winfred Kiiza (Kasese Woman) and Mubarak Munyagwa (Kawempe South) have filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the Constitutional Court’s approval of the Constitutional amendment that removed the upper and lower age caps for presidential contenders.

Their petition is contained in 59 volumes of appeal presented by lawyers Elias Lukwago of M/s Lukwago and Company Advocates and Ladislus Rwakafuuzi of M/s Rwakafuuzi and Company Advocates, filed before the Supreme Court deputy registrar Godfrey Opifemi Anguandia.

It arises from the majority decision of the Constitutional Court taken in Mbale on July26 and is based on 24 grounds.

“The specific grounds of appeal are contained in the Memorandum of Appeal, they are 24. The key areas of contention are; the invention of parliament by security …the issue of public participation in the processes, members of the public were not involved in the processes that led to the enactment of this act…” said Lukwago

Another key area highlighted is “the issue of the Speaker of Parliament having absolute powers to take arbitrary decisions in deciding matter of this gravity.”

The appeal also raises an issue of Shs 29 m given to the MPs for purposes of consulting their constituents which the appellants consider an act of bribery.

The appeal further points out that the Constitutional Court misdirected itself on matters of law and facts.

Lukwago for instance says that the consultations as presented in the judgement were not effective as they were marred with violence.

“That is why now we are seeking for a re-evaluation of the record, of the authority that we placed before them, a re-evaluation of the evidence and re-evaluation of the entire record that was handled by the constitutional court” added Lukwago

On December 20, 2017, Parliament amended Article 102 (b) of the constitution removing the age limit on presidential candidates. Under the same Amendment Act, Parliament extended the terms of MPs and Local government leaders from five to seven years, an amendment which was overturned by the Constitutional Court.

The MPs appeal joins an earlier appeal filed by lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi Kiwanuka who was one of the petitioners in the consolidated Constitutional Court petition that was adjudicated in Mbale.

Hearing of Mabirizi’s petition is yet to be  fixed.