East Africa

Chief Justice post to be advertised, says Ogoola

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KAMPALA

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will search for the new Chief Justice through a competitive process, its head, retired Justice James Ogoola, said yesterday. The current Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki bows out in a week’s time, when he clocks the mandatory retirement age of 70 years.

Justice Ogoola said, for the first time, the job will be advertised in a process through which a suitable candidate will be recommended to President Museveni for appointment. The JSC is an independent government body that, among others, recruits and appoints judicial officers, receives and makes recommendations for appointing judicial officers and disciplines errant ones.

“This is not something coming to the commission abruptly. We received it some time back and we have been having a series of meetings. We shall have more meetings and the solution to the issue (getting a new CJ), as mandated by the Constitution will be solved,” said Justice Ogoola, while launching the client service charter in Kampala. “Soon, we shall advertise for the position in the media,” added Justice Ogoola.

Reason for the change
He explained that when he assumed office a year ago, he changed the recruitment system at the commission to advertising the vacant positions in the print media as opposed to recommendations of candidates by either the DPP or the Judiciary. He further explained that the change in the recruitment system is aimed at ensuring transparency and giving equal opportunity to all qualified Ugandans.

Justice Ogoola also said the position of the Deputy Chief Justice is also vacant following the retirement of Justice Alice Mpagi Bahegeine last year. He said the position has also been advertised in the media.

The retired principal judge said the retiring chief justice will have an extension of three more months as granted by the Constitution to conclude the pending cases before he can officially leave office on June 23.
“Definitely, that date (June 23) must not find a vacuum. We are working towards filling the office and as he leaves, he will be able to hand over to a new Chief Justice,” said Justice Ogoola.

Adding: “our work is to recommend to the President and it’s the President who appoints.” Uganda has had ten Chief Justices since independence. Mr Odoki is the 12 Chief Justice and he has been the second longest serving.

Retired Chief Justice Samuel Wako Wambuzi was the longest serving Chief Justice under the presidencies of Idi Amin, Yusuf Kironde Lule and Yoweri Museveni.

awesaka@ug.nationmedia.com

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