The three Civil Society Organisations that sued the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Hoima Sugar Limited over degrading the disputed part of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve have decided to appeal against last week’s ruling that dismissed their case.
The Presiding Judge dismissed the suit on grounds that the complainants could not substantiate all their claims about public consultations before issuance of an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to the investor – Hoima Sugar Limited.
However, the Chairperson for the Save Bugoma Campaigner, Dickens Kamugisha, says they will not relent the appeal since there are all signs that Justice Musa Ssekaana, could have had a pre-determined position and biased about the case.
He says the campaigners have hope in the court of appeal since the judgment is based on analysis of three judges in the Civil Division of the High Court of Uganda where a single judge had to decide.
Mr Kamugisha who is also the Executive Director for African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), wonders why the judge ignored all the evidence supplied to court in relation to the case.
According to him, the judge capitalised his ruling on trivial issues than critical ones including failure to consider the Kikuube district physical plan and consulting the key conservation bodies of the National Forestry Authority (NFA) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
“The judge was also provided with false evidence that we as the CSOs were consulted by NEMA basing on the minutes of our meeting when we met to question NEMA for not conducting the legally required consultations”, he says.
NEMA and Hoima Sugar Limited were dragged to court by Water & Environment Media Network (WEMNET), National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO).
In their application, the trio accused NEMA of issuing a certificate of approval to Hoima Sugar Ltd to develop the Kyangwali Mixed Land Use Project, yet, according to the plaintiffs; the entire process was marred by flaws, procedural irregularities and without recourse to the relevant provisions of the laws and regulations.