Court lifts ban on Parliament oil probe

The Constitutional Court Tuesday ruled that Parliament oil probe committee was legally set up and should continue with its work.

The Court had stopped the ad-hoc committee from investigating Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and two Cabinet ministers pending a final determination of the petition filed by Severino Twinobusingye who contended that parliament has no power to set up such a committee.

Other ministers were Sam Kuteesa (Foreign Affairs minister) and Hillary Onek (Internal Affairs). The trio allegedly received a bribe from oil companies.

The five Justices of the constitutional court led by the deputy Chief Justice, Alice Mpagi Bahigeine  ruled that parliament acted within its constitutional powers to set up the committee.

The judges however, ruled that it was wrong for parliament to tell the ministers to step aside pending investigations and final report of the committee.

The petitioner, Severino Twinobusingye, a lawyer by profession, who was represented by John Mary Mugisha and Chris Bakiza sought among other declarations that the investigations against the Prime Minister and the two Cabinet Ministers contravened certain articles of the constitution.

Twinobusingye, hailing from Mpangango Upper LCI, Nyarurambi Parish, Nyamirama County, Kinkizi West, Kanungu district contended that the Parliament breached the Constitution by failing to give Mbabazi an opportunity to defend himself before it appointed the ad-hoc committee to probe him.

Twinobusingye, an electorate in Mbabazi’s constituency of Kinkizi West, asserted that the ad-hoc committee of Parliament that investigates the bribery oil saga against Mbabazi was biased, thereby making the Parliament a judge  in its own case by denying all the three Government officials a right to appear before an independent and impartial tribunal.

SOURCE: ( New Vision story by Vision Reporter, 21st February, 2013 )