Lady Justice Margaret Opiny sworn in as Judge of High Court
STATE HOUSE, ENTEBBE: President Yoweri Museveni has said that with proper planning and resource prioritization, the judiciary can provide nation-wide judicial service up to the sub county level, reiterating his earlier stand that since there are administrative units at the Sub-county level including Chiefs, Forest officers, veterinary officers and medical assistants, it would be important to have a judicial officer as well.
“It is a question of planning then we discuss resources. Its important to have coverage for the whole country but at what cost? Planning determines what to do,” he said.
Giving an example of the army, President Museveni said they have been able to defend the whole country with very little money.
“If you are to look at our budget, it is like US$500million other countries are in billions. We are able to provide a defense service in spite of a small budget. The secret also is in prioritization. Like the recruitment of educated people, army in past was illiterate; then weapons. Housing and transport are a bit down. That is how we are able to provide you with that defense service,” he said.
The President was today speaking shortly after the swearing in ceremony of the new Judge, Lady Justice Margaret Apiny to the bench at a ceremony at State House Entebbe. The ceremony was also attended by The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, Chief Justice Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny-Dollo, Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera, Principle Judge Justice Flavian Zeija, Chairperson judicial service commission Uganda, Chairperson Judicial service commission, Commissioner Ruth Sebatindira, PS and secretary to Judiciary.
The President who first apologized for his casual work wear said there was a mix-up in the programme.
“Banyankole have strict protocol on matters of dress. There is dress for work, then dress for Sunday. I came here with the dress of work. I was not told there was a Sunday function. I am not under looking your ceremony. I come with dress of work. Am very sorry, I would have put on a tie. I suffer, but I put it on. I congratulate Lady Justice Margaret Apiny,” he said.
Using the example of the army, President Museveni said while their human resource is not well paid it is well trained.
“Even if soldiers are not getting good pay, their children get a good education, health housing, transport and salary etc. We had to keep salaries down. In Somalia for example, they can’t build a national army because they started by paying soldiers. It is a big country that needs a big army. For us we said in order to have enough manpower to defend our country, we can’t afford high salaries. Low salaries but enough weapons. The good thing with weapons they are not recurrent. Can buy a system, which will help you for ten years, because of this we are flexible,” he said.
The President appealed to the Judiciary to prioritize cases like murder and rape.
“For me, I appeal to the Judiciary that offences like murder, rape and defilement, even without enough resources should be got out of the way. It removes enmity out of the way among the people. The African mentality like the Banyankole, is if you make mistakes e.g, steal my cow, abuse, attack or beat me those are..ebichumulo. They are wrongs (aggrieve people) and the answer for that is okukhola. Once the case is judged against me I must pay a goat or cow. But the boundary is murder, if you kill a person for murder it is enzungu (vendetta). They believed in collective punishment, must go and kill somebody in your clan. Because of collective accountability…make a whole clan accountable for the wrong of one of them. In order not to attract revenge go to settle matter Okukalaba. (Give many cows perform religious ceremony to wash away blood of one who died),” he said.
The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu congratulated Justice Margaret Apiny on the appointment thanked President Museveni for sparing time and devotion to the Judiciary arm of state.
“The NRM as a party in government, its’ history is rooted in the search and pursuit of justice and rule of law. You have been exemplary in showing that no one is above the law. There are some Ugandans who only think justice is done only if they win and if they don’t win they think justice has not been done. We discourage this attitude. We must build confidence and defend the integrity of the Judiciary. That Ugandans can go to court and expect justice and no one should belittle when he loses in the courts of law,” he said.
Chief Justice Owiny Dollo commended the President for unfailingly and religiously standing and understanding the role of judiciary in our national scheme of things.
“We find a lot of people highly educated people who do not understand the role and place of judiciary. You have demonstrated your kin interest and full understand of importance of the judiciary as one of the three arms of govt. You have given me additional weapon in my arsenal but of course like Charles Dickens character, we ask for more,” he said.
Justice Owiny Dollo said Ugandans need judicial service and he welcomed the Presidents support for widening coverage.
“When you graced our new law year for the judiciary, you promised us that you would ensure that our people see the rendering of justice up to sub county level. You wouldn’t have given us a better prize than ensuring that our people enjoy safe water, local governance and similarly administration of justice right at their doorstep. You couldn’t have done anything greater,” he said.
Justice Dollo said they are not blind to the fact that they are competing with other people for contents of baskets and the baskets are not many and other demands are important, but ask that the state juggles and ensures there is equity so that the three pillars of government are at the same level.