The Chief Justice Bart Katureebe has criticised government for failing to take care of judges when they retire from active service.
Citing the former Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Laeticia Kikonyogo who passed away last week at Mulago, Katureebe has for that matter reminded government to speed up fulfilling its promises it made to judicial officers when they met President Museveni over a number of issues including the judges’ salaries and other benefits.
“The president told us that he had met Kikonyogo being pushed in a wheel chair by her husband and asked why the state does not give her full benefits so that she is looked after well,”Katureebe told mourners who included judges and magistrates.
“It is sad that to this day that promise has not yet been fulfilled because I am sure other people in other departments of government have other ideas.”
Katureebe said Museveni during the meeting applauded the work done by the judges who don’t do any other private work but dedicate their lives to serving the country adding that he expressed concern that when they retire, they are not looked after well through a retirement package.
Katureebe told mourners on Wednesday that they would continue fighting for what is due to them as they engage with government.
“It is a shame that two years after the promise was made, she (Kikonyogo) has died when the same has not yet been fulfilled. We will keep fighting to put pressure on the head of state and his colleagues in government to fulfill the pledge he made,”Katureebe noted.
The judges praised the deceased as a dedicated, faithful and friendly personality.
Katureebe cited an example while he was still serving as Attorney General when the deceased was supposed to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court but many people kept writing dossiers about her.
“They kept on leaking circulars to government officials but because she was a straight person, many people in government fought for her and she was appointed a Supreme Court judge,”Katureebe said.
He reminisced about the days when he(Katureebe ) had just started practicing law and entered the court presided over by the late who after the case, advised her on what he would have said.
“Appearing before her, she always advised you politely. She taught and guided everyone. She was a true administrator of justice, a friend, a mother, a teacher and a guide,” Katureebe said.
“I think she recognized that these robes that you put on, Shakespeare called them borrowed robes, today you have them, tomorrow you don’t. It is what you do that you leave behind that touches people,” Katureebe observed.
Several speakers from the Judiciary and legal fraternity have also eulogised justice Kikonyogo as a soft but firm woman who was passionate about women and children justice.
The Chief Registrar of the High Court, Paul Gadenya, noted that the passing on of the deputy chief justice is a matter that can galvanize the government to address issues that are a matter of concern to country. He highlighted the judiciary administration bill that is still pending.
Justice Kikonyogo’s soul will be prayed for at Lubaga cathedral tomorrow morning before she lays in State at Parliament.
Justice Kikonyogo becomes the first judicial officer to lie in state because of her long time service in the Judiciary where she served in various capacities.
Born 77 years ago, Leticia Mukasa Kikonyogo went to Busuubizi Girls’ primary school, Trinity College Nabbingo and Kings College Buddo before joining Makerere University in 1964.
She studied for a law degree at the Inner Temple and Council of Legal Education in London between 1965 –1968.
Kikonyogo became the first Uganda woman magistrate Grade one in 1971-1973.
She was also the first woman Chief Magistrate between 1973 and 1986 before becoming the first woman to be appointed to the High court as a judge in 1986 and also sat on the Court of Appeal.
She was later appointed the first woman Deputy Chief Justice of Uganda and was also knighted by Pope Benedict XV becoming one of the first women papal knights in Africa.