The lawyer who secured a court order seeking to block parliament from probing or debating the Shs 6 billion oil cash bonuses has apologized to speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga.
Alex Chandia told journalists at the parliament on Wednesday afternoon, where he had come to meet the speaker, that he didn't know the implications the order would have on the activities of parliament and government business.
On Tuesday, Kadaga suspended the house until the attorney general moves to the constitutional court to vacate "the stupid order."
"I cannot accept a situation where a court dictates on how we shall speak in this House, on how we shall write the order paper... that is unacceptable. So honourable members, I want to direct the Attorney General to move to court immediately and get this 'stupid' court order vacated," Kadaga said.
The speaker's outburst came a day after Chandia filed an application before the deputy chief justice Steven Kavuma on behalf of Eric Sabbitti seeking orders to stop parliament from discussing the cash bonanza, in which, 42 government officials shared Shs 6 billion after helping Uganda to secure over $400 million (Shs 1.4 trillion) in capital gains tax resulting from the transaction between Heritage and Tullow Oil.
Yesterday, Chandia stormed parliament to apologise to the speaker but she was reportedly away from office. He instead met MPs Elijah Okupa and Anita Among, who drafted part of the oil cash bonus motion. He apologised to the speaker in absentia over the consequences of the order.
“We all know that without the parliament, work in the whole country may not be working and I got concerned. I came to the speaker to express our regret and actions not the fact that we have represented the client because it is our legal duty to represent the client. But the effect of our actions, is that now the country is not running or may not be running for some time. I had come to the speaker to apologise that we did not know that our actions would cause far-reaching consequences to the country and therefore we also wish to apologise to the nation for the effect for the order that we obtained has caused
He however, insisted that his apology doesn't mean that the order is unlawful.
“My apology does not mean the order is illegal or unlawful but am considering the consequences of this order to the whole country. It was the sole reason I came to the speaker to express my displeasure at the consequences all of us will be facing. Am going to advise my client to withdraw [the application] and if he decided to continue that means there will be conflict of interest, therefore I will also not be able to continue…He is at liberty to get another lawyer.”
On his part Okupa, said it is good Chandia has realized the implications of the order, saying they are only waiting for court to quash it before parliament resumes business.
“That shows that all of Ugandans who are concerned are moving together and I want to appreciate Mr Chandia’s concern to come and meet the speaker and then finally getting to meet us two such that we can have smooth operations of the country. I think if other organisations including the people in parties can adopt this type of approach of sorting out things, I think it would make things move faster”, he said.
Earlier the Judiciary commended parliament’s efforts to have the order reversed.
“The Judiciary has noted that parliament is aggrieved by the decision of the Constitutional court and has in that respect directed the attorney general to take immediate steps to have the order set aside by the Constitutional court. The action taken by parliament is commendable and is in accordance with the rule of law because the law allows any aggrieved party to appeal or challenge the decision of a court. In this case, the attorney general is at liberty against the decision…” wrote Gadenya Paul Wolimbwa, chief registrar.