A war of words has erupted between the Judiciary Permanent Secretary, Pius Bigirimana and Supreme Court judge, Lady Justice Esther Kisakye in regard to the latter’s salary.
It follows a July 1, 2022, letter in which Bigirimana blocked Justice Kisakye from getting her salary claiming she been away from work without official leave for many months.
“It has been brought to my attention that since September 2021 when you returned from your medical leave, you have never reported to work nor sought leave grant from your supervisor. This is a serious matter which I as accounting officer, has picked interest in,” Bigirimana said in a tough worded letter.
Citing his mandate as the accounting officer of the judiciary, Bigirimana said it was wrong for the judge to abscond from duty without a valid reason.
“The purpose of this memo is to humbly request you to show cause as to why we should no recover nine months’ salary that has been paid to you without working,” he wrote
Bigirimana indicated in the letter that the judge’s salary since July will not be paid until a satisfactory explanation is given for not reporting to work during the said period.
“If I don’t receive the explanation sought within 14 working days, I will proceed to recover all monies remitted to you in form of salary starting with the month of July 2022,” he wrote.
Justice Kisakye responds
In a stinging response, Justice Kisakye accused Bigirimana of making serious allegations against her and the work she does basing on undisclosed sources.
“I am totally surprised and amazed that a person entrusted with your responsibility ignored clear constitutional provisions and official records about my work, health and leave entitlements, all of which are readily available and accessible within your office, my supervisor’s office, office of the commission, human resource in the judiciary, the Supreme Court of Uganda, Judiciary of Uganda and the medical board,” Justice Kisakye wrote in a letter dated July 14.
She says all the above benefits are also accessible nationally and internationally by members of the public.
“… you instead chose to tarnish my good name, reputation and record based on hearsay,” she wrote.
“I have honorably served my country for over 12 years as a justice of the Supreme Court of Uganda since October 2009. I am the longest serving justice of this court and the most senior in ranking after the Chief Justice. Throughout my time of service, I have always adhered to the constitution, judicial oath and all the laws of Uganda.”
She said no justice of the Supreme Court has ever been required to report to the secretary to the judiciary or to submit an individual report to the Permanent Secretary as being demanded by Bigirimana.
“If the law has recently been changed, I would be grateful if you could provide me with a copy thereof and or the regulations requiring this report and also copies of reports submitted by my colleagues at the court who have already complied with this new requirement for information and my guidance,” Justice Kisakye said.
Accusing Bigirimana of making baseless allegations against her, Kisakye said her supervisor is fully aware of her output since September, 2021and her subsequent absence from office.
“The questions you are now asking me should be directed to the relevant judiciary officials who for reasons best known to themselves declined to execute their responsibilities and I cannot be blamed for their failure to do their work,”
Justice Kisakye insists that the directives and intended actions by Bigirimana contravene the constitution and the right to a fair hearing.
It is not the first time Justice Kisakye is getting into trouble with a senior colleague.
Last year, during the hearing of the 2021 presidential election petition, there was a standoff Kisakye forcefully proceeded to read her minority ruling even when fellow justices of the Supreme Court refused to accompany her.
Drama ensued when the public address system and lights were switched off as Kisakye proceeded to address the press.
Kisakye alleged that Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny Dollo had wanted to gag her from reading her dissenting ruling by ordering the confiscation of her file.
In the ruling she later read, Kisakye said the Supreme Court was unfair to Kyagulanyi when it refused to grant him permission to amend his petition but also allow him time to file additional evidence.