Justice Tabaro, Mak Staff Lawyer Clash Over Submissions

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In short
“I will not suffer impolite language. I don’t want impolite language here. One of the things you learn under reconciliation is polite language,” said Justice Tabaro.

Retired Justice Patrick Tabaro, the head of Makerere University Staff Appeals tribunal and lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde on Wednesday clashed over the procedural issues

Justice Tabaro said he was irritated by the use of impolite language by Ssemakadde during the session.  

Ssemakadde, the Chief Executive of the Centre for Legal Aid was representing Associate Professor Neema Abooki and Dr Juma Anthony Okuku.  

The clash was after the lawyer was dissatisfied with the way the cases were dragging on without a definite decision and conclusion from the tribunal.    

 Dr Juma Okuku is one of the 45 sacked staff by the institution in December 2018. He was dismissed for alleged incompetence and inefficiency.  

Okuku says that he was dismissed for refusing to award irregular marks to students. His dismissal came after was after he contested the awarding of 283 students with false marks.  

While the decision of the University Appointment Board to dismiss him from the university service was made on November 21, 2018, Okuku early last year sought a temporally relief including half pay on grounds that he was sick and needed to survive as he pursues the case.  

This matter appeared in December last year before the tribunal but Justice Tabaro mentioned there was no adequate time, as the institution was due for Christmas holidays and rescheduled it to January 8, 2020.  

Ssemakadde argues that he had applied for temporally relief for his client and expected the tribunal to give it the urgency it deserved.  

"Mr Chairman with due respect we are seeking to be heard through oral submissions. I would wish the tribunal to give us the procedure," Ssemakadde sought.  

However, Justice Tabaro insisted on written submission from both parties which angered Ssemakadde who cited that the tribunal was delaying not only Dr Okuku matter but also other cases which had significant financial implications on the suspended, dismissed staff but also delaying justice.  

However, Justice Tabaro maintained that they expect both parties to file written submissions for determination without thinking about the costs.  

"I have never seen any country where justice is cheap," Justice Tabaro said.    

During the exchange, Ssemakadde said that Justice Tabaro held a dictatorial view on insisting on written submissions which he argued were not only time consuming but also costly and delaying the justice of staff.  

Retired Justice Tabaro, on the other hand, kept on reminding Ssemakadde to avoid using provocative words.

"I will not suffer impolite language. I don't want impolite language here. One of the things you learn under reconciliation is polite language," said Justice Tabaro.  

He added that; "I am in my mid-70s and when you speak with that kind of vigour it disturbs me."


 Ssemakadde told URN that Dr Okuku has been deprived of timely justice.  

He argues that the university must respect and follow the law in its provisions of the Human Resources Manual that provides that once an appeal has been lodged, the dismissed staff reverts to suspension and is entitled to benefits of suspended staff including half pay of their salary emoluments.    

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According to Ssemakadde, the matter of Dr Okuku could have been heard orally and a ruling made. He says the current chairperson of the tribunal is a very senior advocate and that he should understand that his purpose in Makerere is a supreme law enforcer who should not act alone.  
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About the author

Davidson Ndyabahika
Davidson Ndyabahika is a Journalism major from Makerere University and is passionate about investigative and data journalism with special interest in feature story telling.

He has gone through digital and multi-media training both at Ultimate Multimedia Consult, and has attended Data Journalism Sessions at ACME to enrich his capacity in data journalism.

Davidson has previously freelanced with The Campus Times, The Observer, Chimp reports and URN. He is currently reporting under Education. He is also passionate about reporting on environment, health, crime and political satire writing.

Follow him on Twitter: @dndyaba