I will throw a hot stone behind CJ Odoki’s back

By John Baptist Oloka

25th March 2013:

The media broke news of the imminent retirement Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki – having clocked the constitutional retirement age of 70 years.  Odoki served the Judiciary for nearly 45 years.  There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that in that time, he did many good things to advance the cause of justice and the rule of law in the republic of Uganda.

Unfortunately for Justice Odoki, one of the greatest tragedies of human life is that regardless of how many good things one does during a life time, the few truly awful things that one does will always overshadow the great things one will have done.

In the case of Justice Benjamin Odoki, the awful decisions that “his” Supreme Court took in the election petitions filed by Dr Kizza Besigye challenging the controversial “re-election” of President Museveni in 2001 and 2006 will forever overshadow his legacy.

Like the Late First Deputy Prime Minister Eriya Kategaya who swallowed his vomit when he fell out with Museveni over the latter’s decision to scrap term limits and then did a humiliating U-turn, Justice Odoki also had two opportunities to attain immortal greatness and he blew both of them.

As Chief Justice, he wielded the mighty casting vote which could have nullified Museveni’s election “victories” in both the 2001 and 2006 general elections.  In both cases, Odoki wilfully took the decision to “legally” hand Museveni the mantles of state power when he had actually lost the democratic contest for the presidency of Uganda.

In my view, by so doing, Odoki did Uganda the greatest disservice.  If he had used his judgment and vote patriotically in 2001, Uganda would have been saved the impunity that Museveni unleashed on the country in subsequent years.  Not even Odoki’s own Judiciary was spared when the ‘Black Mambas’ invaded the High Court of Uganda.

From the moment Odoki allowed Museveni to walk back into State House in 2001, the army took over the police force, peaceful demonstrations and protests became criminal activities, pregnant women and 2 year old babies became legitimate targets for blood-thirsty men determined to keep Museveni in power, and the government of the republic of Uganda fell into the hands of what former VP Gilbert Bukenya called “the mafia”.

We shall not even attempt to list the seismic grand theft of public funds and corruption that Uganda has witnessed since Odoki allowed Museveni to walk back into State House in 2001.  Would Museveni have threatened to call in the army to overthrow his own government as he did recently if Odoki had kicked him out of office in 2001?  Certainly not!

Call me what you will – but as far as I am concerned, Odoki’s retirement is good riddance.  In many African cultures, people will often say that they have thrown a hot stone on the back of someone they loathe when that person finally leaves or stops tormenting them.

That sadly is what I think Justice Benjamin Odoki deserves as he walks out of the Judiciary for the last time.  What a disgrace to the honourable profession!  END: Login to www.ugandacorrespondent.com every Monday to read our top stories mid-week for our updates

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Mr Oloka is a Ugandan Lawyer based in Bon – Germany

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