Members of Parliament have paid tribute to the late former Deputy Chief Justice Leticia Mary Mukasa Kikonyogo for being an advocate of justice, rule of law, good governance and fighting for an independent judiciary.
In a special sitting held on Thursday chaired by the Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, legislators praised the late Kikonyogo for the bravery she exhibited, particularly after the 2005 siege on the High Court by ‘Black Mamba’ operatives led by Gen David Tinyefuza to arrest Dr. Kizza Besigye.
In 2007, Kikonyogo who was then Acting Chief Justice ordered the closure of all courts in protest of “the repeated violation of the sanctity of the court premises”.
Kikonyogo died last week at Mulago hospital after losing battle to a heart attack.
The motion to pay tribute to the late Justice was moved by the First Deputy Prime Minister, General Moses Ali and seconded by the deputy opposition chief whip, Roland Mugume Kaginda together with Agago county MP Makmot Edward on behalf of independent MPs.
General Ali described Kikonyogo as a person whose life inspired the women in a male dominated society.
“As a country, we yet again grieve the sudden loss of a distinguished icon whose achievements will continue to inspire many women in a male dominated legal arena in our country,” Ali said in his eulogy.
“The late has been extremely intelligent, strong willed, hardworking and with a strong Christian values.”
On his part, Kaginda commended the late for standing her ground for the independence of Judiciary when black mambas invaded court.
Similarly, Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal said; “When things get tough, tough women stand up, where are the men? I am always asking myself this question, the Late Lady Justice stood up after the black mambas invaded the courts”.
The Deputy Speaker, Oulanyah lauded the deceased for the pioneering legacy that she marked in the history of Uganda, challenging MPs to endeavor to emulate her example.
However, during the same sitting, the issue of the retirement benefits for judicial officers was raised.
MP Kaginda blamed government for the delayed payment of Kikonyogo’s retirement benefits saying that she must have died with a lot of pain.
“As we pay tribute to the late Deputy Chief Justice, we implore government to expeditiously handle the issue of improving the remuneration and retirement benefits which will motivate judicial officers to administer justice,” Kaginda said.
He was reiterating a concern raised by Chief Justice Bart Katureebe on Wednesday.
Kaginda asked government to speed up the judiciary employee’s remuneration and their retirement benefits to motivate them to administer justice.
“There is no way the country will prosper when one arm of government is operating under unsatisfactory conditions,” he said.
But the Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana rejected reports connecting Kikonyogo’s demise to failure by government to pay her retirement benefits. He said that the late Justice had received her benefits before she died.
“When I was coming here the Chief Justice called me to clear the air but I know that the late has been receiving her retirement benefits as provided for in the existing law,” Rukutana said.