East African Court of Justice Arusha, 5 November 2015: The First Instance Division dismissed a case filed by a Ugandan national, Oscar Okaly Opuli, against the Secretary General of the East African Community (1st Respondent) and the Republic of Uganda (2nd Respondent) alleging that the government of Uganda’s failure to investigate David Greenhugh and business related to trafficking of military goods from Ukrain to Sudan through Uganda, a conduct which is contrary to the United Kingdom’s Export Control Order Act 2008 and the East African Community Laws is an infringement of the Treaty. The Applicant also alleges that the Secretary General’s inaction constitutes an infringement of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.
In February 2015, the Court directed the Applicant to file evidence of a witness by way of affidavit and his submissions with the Court by 8th May 2015. To date none of the orders have been complied with and the Court has gone ahead and dismissed the matter.
The Court in its ruling stated that, they agree with the Counsel for the Respondents that no sufficient reasons had been advanced by the Counsel for the Applicant for his failure to take steps ordered by the Court on 23rd Feb 2015 after the Scheduling Conference. The Principal Judge Hon. Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi further said that in absence of sufficient reasons such failure amounts to abuse of Court process. The Court therefore exercised its discretion under Rule 1 (2) and 66 (3) of the Court’s Rules of procedure and dismissed the case.
Before the Court ruled, the Lawyer for the Applicant submitted that the Applicant lost contact with the witness leading the to delay in filing of the Submission as the Court had ordered in February 2015 and was requesting the Court for more time of 30 days to file the same.
Mr. Agaba representing the Secretary General also submitted opposing the prayer for the Applicant and said that Applicant has consistently shown lack of interest in the matter since the time the Court directed him to file his submission up to today. That this was evidenced by his failure to communicate to Court what the challenge was. He further said that if he had failed to submit the requirements in eight months then he might not do the same in the one month being requested for. Mr Agaba asked Court to strike out the case because the Applicants have failed to fulfill their obligations and that is the abuse of the Court’s process.
The 2nd Respondent (Attorney General of Uganda) represented by Ms. Margaret Nabakooza also associated herself with the submissions of Counsel for the Secretary General and asked Court to dismiss the case.
The matters came before a bench of the Judges of the First Instance Division composed of Honourable Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi (Principal Judge), Justice Dr. Faustin Ntezilyayo, and Justice Fakihi A . Jundu.
Notes for editors
Rule 1 (2) of the East African Court of Justice Rules of Procedure 2013 states that; nothing in these Rules shall be deemed to limit or otherwise affect the inherent power of the Court to make such orders as may be necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the process of the Court.
Rule 66 (3) of the East African Court of Justice Rules of Procedure 2013 provides that; Where any party to whom time has been granted fails to produce evidence or to cause the attendance of its witness, or to perform any other act necessary to the further progress of the case, the Court may, notwithstanding such failure, proceed to determine the dispute or reference forthwith.
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The East African Court of Justice (EACJ or ‘the Court’), is one of the organs of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. Established in November 2001, the Court’s major responsibility is to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty.
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