Uganda's top Supreme Court Judge, Justice Oder is Dead
Justice Arthur Haggai Okelo Oder.

Uganda's top Supreme Court Judge, Justice Oder is Dead

Supreme Court Judge, Justice Arthur Haggai Okelo Oder is dead.

By Gideon Munaabi
more from author >>
First published: June 27, 2006

Justice Oder died on Sunday night after battling with diabetes, Pressure and cancer. He was admitted to Mulago hospital about two months ago after taking part in the hearing of the election petition filed by Forum for Democratic Change President, Dr. Kiiza Besigye.

Justice Oder was first appointed a Puisne Judge of the High Court of Uganda in 1979. He worked as such until 1988, when he was appointed to the Supreme Court Bench.

Born in Aboke, Apac District, Uganda in 1938, Oder received Primary and Secondary School education in Uganda from 1945 to 1957, obtaining a Cambridge Overseas School Certificate at Sir Samuel Baker School in Gulu.

From 1958 to 1960, he worked as a Clerk / Interpreter in the Office of the District Commissioner of Lango District, at Lira. He was thereafter awarded a scholarship by the Lango local government to study law in the United Kingdom (U.K.).

In September 1960, he traveled to the U.K. and entered Norwich City College and Art School, Norwich, Norfolk, to study for Cambridge School Certificate "A" Level, which he obtained in 1962.

In October 1962, he was admitted to the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth to a study for a Law Degree. In June 1965, he graduated with an Honours LL.B. Degree.

In September 1965, he entered the Council of Legal Education Law School, London to study for the Bar Final Examinations, which he passed in September 1966.

In November 1966, he was called to the bar as a Barrister-at-Law by the Honorable Society of Garay's Inn, which he had joined in 1964.

At the end of 1966, he returned to Uganda where he was appointed a State Attorney in the Attorney General's Chambers. In 1969, he was posted as a Resident State Attorney in Gulu, Northern Uganda. This was the first office of a Resident State Attorney to be established in Uganda.

In June 1969, he went into private practice, joining the Law Firm of M/s. Mboijana & Co. Advocates, in Kampala. Due to fear of insecurity, he left private law practice and joined Uganda Commercial Bank as its Legal Advisor and Secretary to the Board of Directors.

In February1977, he fled Uganda due to insecurity and lived in exile in Zambia until June 1980. He worked there as a State Counsel in the Ministry of Legal Affairs. After the of Idi Amin's Regime in 1979, he returned to Uganda on being appointed a Puisne Judge of the High Court. In 1988, he was elevated to Justice of the Supreme Court.

As a Puisne Judge, the Government of Uganda appointed him the Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry Ito Violation of Human Rights.


During the Besigye petition against the 2001 presidential polls, Oder gave in on Besigyes petition against President Yoweri Museveni and the Electoral Commission.

Justice Oder said that the election of President Yoweri Museveni was done in breach of the Presidential Elections Act 2000. He concurred with Besigye, the then EC boss Mr. Aziz Kasujja and his commission were simply punctured with incompetence.

Justice Oder said that there was multiple voting. He said, "The 2nd Respondent's agents/servants, namely Presiding Officers and Polling Assistants, with full knowledge that the voters concerned had already voted, allowed them to vote more than once.

Oder pinned President Museveni, the Commander in Chief, on the issue of the army's unjustified involvement in the polls.

Oder said, "The documented evidence I have referred to indicates that the problem of violence and intimidation during the presidential electoral process was a matter of serious concern to the 2nd respondent and to at least four presidential candidates, including the petitioner.

Justice Oder is Father to former renowned DJ Robert Ogwal popularly known as Rasta Rob and a relative to former Uganda President, Dr. Milton Obote. Ugandas most senior judges were set to issue a statement about his death later on Monday.

By Gideon Munaabi
more from author >>
First published: June 27, 2006
To learn more about Ultimate Media Consult go to

Gideon Munaabi is a journalist and public relations practitioner with Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. He has been and continues writing widely for different publication locally and internationally. He is a founding member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd and is currently the chairman of the organisation.