Bugisu Cooperative Union (BCU) has petitioned the Judicial Service Commission to investigate and punish Justice, Lydia Mugambe in the High Court Civil Division, for alleged unprofessional conduct.
BCU is disconcerted by the manner in which Justice Mugambe handled the matter between Budidi Cooperative Society Limited Vs Bugisu Cooperative Society and the Registrar of cooperatives.
On 14 November 2018, Justice Mugambe issued orders halting the Annual General Meeting of BCU that had been planned for 15 November 2018, to pave way for the election of a new board following the expiry of the term of the old board.
Justice Mugambe’s order stemmed from an application by Budidi Grower’s Cooperative Society Ltd, one of the primary societies under BCU whose members ran to court citing flaws in the electoral guidelines set by the union.
However, the order by the Judge to suspend the BCU Annual General Meeting (AGM) has not gone down well with the outgoing board chairperson, Hon. Nathan Nandala Mafabi.
In his November 16th 2018 letter to the Judicial Service Commission, Nandala says it was unprofessional for the judge to handle the application of an interim order yet the civil Division has 2 registrars who handle such matters.
He also says the judge erroneously issued the orders against Bugisu Cooperative Union because the application was against Bugisu Cooperative Society Limited, which is a distinct entity.
Nandala now wants the Judicial Service Commission to investigate the Judge immediately and take disciplinary action against her for making the union loose more than 500 million shillings that had been spent in organizing the meeting.
“Justice Mugambe should have allowed the AGM to proceed, then nullify the resolutions later,” said Nandala. “The other point is that the matter is in Mbale. Why did they hold a matter of Mbale in Kampala?” he wondered.
Hon. Nandala said there is an arbitration system for cooperatives and Budidi Growers Cooperative Society neglected to pursue this option, in preference of a legal suit. He said this has caused the Union to lose 500 million shillings, yet Budidi Growers does not substantially patronize BCU.
“There is arbitration in cooperatives. Budidi Growers are not even members of BCU. Members are required to supply 5000 Kgs of coffee annualy, yet Budidi Growers has only supplied 484 Kgs in 10 years. We want them to dispose of this case and this time they must award us costs. If they don’t we will be compelled to seek alternative means,” said Nandala.
Hon. Nandala said they will abide by the Court order and appear before Justice Mugambe 22 November 2018.
In response, Hon. Justice Benjamin Kabiito, the Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission said that he directed the registrar of planning, Research and Inspectorate to initiate investigations into the complaint logged with the commission.
Mr. Julius Nakiyi of Budidi GCS said that he could not seek arbitration with the same leadership of BCU which they are accusing. Therefore, court would be neutral to handle the grievances within BCU.