Former Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki who was also the chairperson for the Constitution Review Commission in 1989 has responded after being accused by president Museveni for ignoring people’s views bail for certain offences.
Benedicto Kiwanuka Memorial Lecture at High Court Building pushed to scrap last week president Museveni said that the law has led to increased mob justice and singled out Justice Benjamin Odoki that he made Constitutional Review Commission from the wishes of Ugandans.
“During public hearings to gather nationwide views about proposed amendment of the 1995 Constitution, majority citizens rejected the idea of bail for capital offenders, but the Odoki Commission in its recommendations instead gave the power to grant or deny bail to judges.”, Museveni said.
“I have some issues with his Lordship Odoki and his Constitutional Review Commission. There is a way he suppressed our line, which is the line of the masses”, he added.
The president further said that he checked on the minutes of the Constitutional Review Commission and people did not want bail for certain offences according to the records.
However in an interview over the weekend, Justice Odoki said the commission only made recommendations to the CA whose members were elected by the people to represent them.
The former chief justice also said the representatives should have asked the public whether the stand on bail was right before adopting it in the 1995 Constitution and made it clear how the constitution has never been static whereby it can be amended when need arises.
“The Constitution is not a statute as it can be subject to interpretation, expansion, clarity and amendments. Even now, some people are saying bail should not be given, others are saying it should be given,” said Justice Odoki.
According to justice Odoki, the recommendations that were presented to the CA were not personal and promised that the matter would be resolved amicably
The Odoki commission was mandated to collect views of the public and prepare a draft constitution for Uganda. The draft was debated and adopted by an elected CA in 1995.
“Elections were held in Uganda on March 28, 1994 to pick 214 of the 284 CA delegates.
These would be tasked with drawing up the country’s new constitution.” He said.
Although all candidates formally run as independents, it was estimated that 146 of the 214 elected members were representatives of the NRM. The 68 were viewed as Opposition, 70 were appointed with each registered political party nominating two members and each of the 39 districts nominating a female representative.
Ten other members were nominated by the army, four by the National Youth Council, two by the National Organisation of Trade Unions, one by the National Union of Disabled People and saw the promulgation of the new constitution with the presidential and parliamentary elections being held in 1996.
In Article 28, it states that an accused person is to be presumed innocent until he/she is proved or he/she pleads and it is guaranteed by Article 23 (6) of the 1995 Constitution.