Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 1842 EAT on Tuesday 7th March 2023.
Constitutional court justice Kenneth Kakuru is dead. Kakuru breathed his last at Aga Khan hospital in Nairobi, Kenya fter losing the battle to cancer.
“He has just passed away in Nairobi. He’s been too unwell,” said the source. Another source in the judiciary confirmed Kakuru’s passing, saying the Judiciary will issue a statement in due course.
In 2021, the 65-year-old Kakuru wrote to the Judicial Service Commission chairperson, justice Benjamin Kabiito asking him to send his application for retirement to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
The judge said that he had been advised by his doctors to take a rest, the reason he wanted to retire at 63 years of age instead of the mandatory retirement age of 70 for the Court of Appeal/Constitutional Court justices.
Kakuru won the hearts of many Ugandans during the age limit debate in 2018 when he delivered a dissenting judgment, saying that it was unlawful for the members of the parliament to remove the age limit cap for one to stand for the presidency, the topmost office in the country which was previously at the age of 75.
“MPs have no power of their own. The power they have belongs to the people It is delegated power. The suggestion by the Attorney General that MPs can amend anything is fiction. It must be rejected and I, therefore, reject it,” said Kakuru while describing the submissions of the attorney general as unreasonable in the petition that sought to nullify the constitutional amendments.
Some lawyers who have handled cases before Kakuru have described him as a brave man who will be missed for his love for democracy and rule of law. Counsel Samuel Muyizzi Mulindwa hails Kakuru for having been the first judge to declare that “Museveni is authoritarian and that we are in a dictatorship if his decision on lifting the age limit is put in proper perspective”.
Steven Kalali, another lawyer says that he remembers Kakuru for having been an icon and strong fighter for the rule of law who stood by his practice for all the years while still an advocate and the bench.
“Most importantly I honour him for the decision he made in the famous Togikwatako Mabirizi petition on the age limit cap as well as the recent decision on the nullification of section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act filed by Andrew Karamagi and Robert Shaka against the attorney general. As a rule of law defender, I shall always regret his big loss to the protection of our democratic principles and upholding the constitution of Uganda for he was among the key justices whenever he was on a panel hearing a petition you had the assurance of justice in the decision,” said Kalali.
About justice Kakuru
Born in 1958, Kakuru is the son of Rev Eliakim Kamujanduzi, an elder and senior educationist who denied the Omugabe of Ankole Charles Rutahaba Gatsyonga holy communion at Ruharo parish, saying that the monarch was polygamous, a trait that most people think Kakuru could have learned from his father.
Kakuru attended local schools for his primary and secondary school education in Uganda where he was born in southwestern Uganda.
He studied law at Makerere University, graduating with a Bachelor of Law. Kakuru also had a master of Law from the same university and a postgraduate diploma in legal practice from the Law Development Centre in Kampala.
He also had a master’s degree in educational policy planning and development from Kyambogo University. He has been a member of professional groups such as the Uganda Law Society, the East African Law Society, the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide, and the International Bar Association.
He founded Kakuru and Company Advocates, a law firm that is known to have contributed to the country’s environmental jurisprudence majorly through public interest litigation. He was also known for his humour while presiding over judicial matters.
At one time, several lawyers described him as a judge whom you can’t appear before and leave when you are not satisfied, regardless of his decision. Kakuru was husband to Charity Nankunda Kakuru, his current wife whom he married on January 14, 2012.