• Francis Obonyo
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Court struck out an application for enforcement of rights

In the case of Aboneka Micheal & Centre for Constitutional Governance V Attorney General
Before Hon. Justice Ssekaana Musa and ruling delivered on 16th /08/2019.

This follows the orders to restrain the Ministry of Internal Affairs from recalling Ugandan Passports and subsequently issuing the East African Passports to the citizens of Uganda without a legal basis in the Ugandan Domain.

Aboneka Micheal and Centre for Constitutional Governance filed an application against the government under Miscellaneous Cause No.367 of 2018 before Hon. Justice Ssekaana Musa. This case was a matter of public interest and the Ministry of Internal Affairs was in the process of recalling all Ugandan Passports without premising the recall on any clear law in Uganda.

The case follows the facts that, the Ministry planned to issue the East African Passports to the Ugandan citizens. The Ministry was in the process of recalling Ugandan Passports by 2021 regardless of their expiry date. There was no sensitization of the Ugandan citizens on the new venture leaving citizens to the Mercy of God and there was no clear law under which the Ministry is proceeded to recall Ugandan Passports to issue out the East African Passports to Ugandan citizens. That the East African Protocol and decisions of Council and Heads of State are only confined within the laws of Establishment of the EAC and do not replace the domestic laws of the country unless proper procedure of domestication is followed.

The Learned Judge held and stated that the application was brought as Public interest litigation under Article 50 which provides for enforcement of rights and freedoms. In order to proceed or bring actions under Article 50 of the Constitution, the matter must relate directly to fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed under the constitution. The closest the applicants have submitted on the infringement of rights and freedoms was as follows; “The summation of all the actions that the applicants contend is without the backing of the legal framework is that they will have the effect of infringement of the rights and freedoms of the people of Uganda. If a citizen is seeking to protect the money of Ugandans, avoid inconvenience to them and safeguard their citizenship, then it is clear he feels the citizens right to their money and citizenship, as well as their right to avoid undue inconvenience by the actions of the government, needs to be protected.”

This court found the applicants’ submissions were very confused and unpolished on what they sought from the court as an infringement of rights and freedoms. Once they brought themselves under the purview of infringement of rights and freedoms, then they had a duty to clearly state in the pleadings and affidavits the exact rights they are challenging in court for infringement. The judge also stated that the applicants seem to bring this application as a matter of public interest to avoid wastage of citizens’ money, inconveniences, and safeguarding the citizenship of Ugandans. It seems the applicants’ counsel wants to impute some rights that would be affected by implication without necessarily setting out any such specific rights that are being infringed.

The applicant in this matter did not cite any infringement of any right or freedom guaranteed under the Constitution as the basis of filing the application. The applicants should have filed an application for judicial review challenging that decision of the Minister of Internal affairs or the National Citizenship and immigration Board rather than filing an application for enforcement of rights where no single right is mentioned or Article of the Constitution is cited. On this preliminary objection, the application was incompetently before this court and was struck out.