Semujju Disrupts 'Age Limit' Hearing over Chairman's Neutrality

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In short
Ssemujju alleged that Jacob Oboth-Oboth had attended the National Resistance Movement-NRM party caucus that endorsed the bill and held a secret meeting with President Yoweri Museveni, the targeted beneficiary of the bill.

The first public hearing on the controversial 'Age Limit' Bill has kicked off with the Opposition Whip Ibrahim Semujju Nganda questioning the impartiality of Jacob Oboth-Oboth, the Chairperson of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee.

Ssemujju alleged that Jacob Oboth-Oboth had attended the National Resistance Movement-NRM party caucus that endorsed the bill and held a secret meeting with President Yoweri Museveni, the 'targeted' beneficiary of the bill.

The bill seeks to amend article 102 (b) of the constitution by removing the 75-year age limit on persons intending to contest for the presidency. Once amended, the article will give president Museveni a legal backing to seek another term of office when his current term ends. He is now aged 73 and would not be eligible to contest for the seat after more than 30 years in power.

"You and a couple of others met Museveni in groups and for you Mr Chairman you met the President with MPs Esther Anyakun and Grace Kesande and in these meetings millions of money exchanged hands," Ssemujju said.

He challenged the Oboth-Oboth to come out clean and tell the world that he will be impartial in handling the bill amid fears that he was compromised.

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In his response, Oboth-Oboth said that his track record speaks for itself and that he has never been a subject of an investigation on matters of personal integrity.

"It's a serious issue against my person. I have achieved the centre of neutrality. I am not a corrupt man, I will never be. I have a track record. Make arguments that will add value to these proceedings. Don't bring political activism here," Oboth-Oboth said.

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Meanwhile, Ssemujju was also concerned about the venue of the meeting alleging that the parliamentary Conference Hall A, where they were sitting, had been used by Security Operatives on September 27, 2017, before raiding Parliament and later after forcefully ejecting opposition legislators from the chambers.

"I do not feel safe in this room. Can we get another venue?" Ssemujju stated in a request supported by Shadow Attorney Wilfred Niwagaba and Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga.

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However, Oboth-Oboth insisted on proceeding with the meeting at the set venue attracting ire from Ssemujju who kept demanding for a 'proper' venue.

The situation was saved by the Sergeant at Arms Ahmed Kagoye who stepped in notifying Oboth-Oboth that the South Committee Room was available for the committee if members deemed it fit.  The legislators changed the venue of the meeting after two hours of bickering.

The sitting was however suspended after Kaberamaido Woman MP Veronica Eragu demanded that the sitting is suspended until all internal issues are handled.

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The committee resumes later with an interface between the committee and the mover of the controversial bill, Raphael Magyezi.

 

About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.