Home COURT High Court Upholds Revocation of Charles Okunya’s Election as Kumi Diocese Bishop

High Court Upholds Revocation of Charles Okunya’s Election as Kumi Diocese Bishop

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The High Court Civil Division in Kampala has dismissed the case filed by the Kumi Anglican Bishop Elect Rev. Charles Oode Okunya against the revocation of his election as the 2nd Bishop of Kumi Diocese.

On the 1st February 2020, The Select Committee of House of Bishops sitting at Mityana revoked the election of Bishop Okunya on grounds that he falsified his age by way of statutory declaration and had not attained the age of 45 years by the time he was elected.

Article 4(2) of the Provincial Constitution provides; No person shall be allowed to administer as Bishop, Priest or Deacon in the Church of Uganda unless he or she has been licensed by the Archbishop in the case of Bishops or Diocesan Bishop in other cases.

It must be understood that, on 19th November 2019, Rev. Okunya was duly elected as the Bishop elect of Kumi Diocese after a thorough process of vetting and nomination. Subsequently, by letter dated 16th December 2019, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda communicated to Rev. Okunya that there were complaints raised against him and issues concerning his first relationship with the mother of his children, one Dinah for which the Plaintiff was to respond to in writing.

But Rev. Okunya in his plaint sought the reliefs of court asking for declaration that the decision of the House of Bishops revoking his election as the 2nd Bishop of Kumi Diocese is illegal and unlawful.

He also asked the court to declare that the decision of the House of Bishops barring his name from ever coming up among any future candidates is illegal and unlawful.

He further asked the court to put a permanent injunction restraining the Defendant, its agents, servants and or employees from further conducting the search and subsequent appointment of another Bishop of Kumi Diocese until the determination of the suit.

Okunya also requested the court to Order the defendant to consecrate and enthrone him as the 2nd Bishop of Kumi Diocese.

Under the Church of Uganda provincial canons marked as DEX 18, Canon 3.6.1 on election and consecration of Bishops provides that in case of a vacancy for a bishop, the diocesan nomination committee shall on behalf of the Diocesan Synod forward two names to the Archbishop for consideration for appointment to the office of the Diocesan Bishop by the House of Bishops.

Article 13(6) and Provincial Canon 3.6.2 provides: No person shall be elected to the office of Bishop unless he or she has attained the age of forty five (45) and is a holder of at least a Bachelor’s degree in Theology, or a first degree in any other field with an additional Diploma in Theology from a Theological Institution recognized by the Church of Uganda, provided that a Bishop shall retire after serving for a period of fifteen (15) years or upon attaining the age of sixty five (65) years, whichever comes first.

Rev. Okunya according to official documents issued from different government institutions like NIRA and the Electoral Commission, his date of birth is still 23rd November 1975 and this date still binds him until it changes in accordance with the law.

Rev. Okunya at the time of his nomination was not qualified to be elected a Bishop of Kumi since he had not yet made the mandatory age requirement of 45 years.

In his 30th June ruling the High Court Judge Justice Ssekaana Musa ruled that The House of Bishops was right and justified to revoke the election of Plaintiff as the second Bishop of Kumi Diocese.

He further ordered that, for reasons stated herein this suit is dismissed with costs in favor of the defendants (The house of Bishops).

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