Mukono, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Justice Olive Kazaarwe Mukwaya has thrown out the third petition challenging the election of Idah Erios Nantaba as Kayunga District Woman Member of Parliament. She delivered the verdict in her ruling on an application filed by Nantaba’s rival, Harriet Nakwede.
The petitioner, who ran on the National Unity Platform-NUP party ticket was the first runner up in the January 14th, 2021 polls. She garnered 37,117 votes against Nantaba’s 42,725 votes. Nakwede ran to High Court through her lawyer Daniel Mudhumbusi claiming that Nantaba went to cast her vote accompanied by 17 buses filled with unknown people in the area to vote for her.
She also claimed that Nantaba bribed voters and blocked her agents from accessing the areas where the polling officers were issuing ballots to voters. She also claimed that at some polling stations, her agents were made to sign the result declaration forms before the voters were counted.
Nakwede also claimed that during the vote tallying exercise, only Nantaba was allowed to access the tallying tent. She also accused the Electoral Commission of delaying the declaration exercise hence creating space for altering results.
In her defence, Nantaba through her Lawyer Ambrose Tebyasa denied the accusations, saying they were baseless and not backed by any evidence. Tebyasa demonstrated before the court that all candidates attended the entire tallying process in person and were accorded equal treatment.
He also proved before the court that witnesses presented by the petitioner are either none residents or registered voters in Kayunga district. The EC Lawyer, Jennifer Somali Angeyo also demonstrated before the court that EC verified the entries and all results announced at polling stations before the final tally and subsequent declaration of the final results.
In his affidavit, Kayunga District Returning Officer, Rashid Musinguzi also indicated that the tallying process was conducted in a transparent manner. He said that they even all tamper-proof envelopes containing the declaration of results forms from the respective polling stations in the presence of the candidates and their agents prior to the final tallying exercise.
In her ruling delivered on email, Justice Olive Kazaarwe Mukwaya notes that the court accorded the petition ample time and opportunity to present evidence in support of the various complaints in her petition against Nantaba and EC in vain.
“In my view, she has failed in her duty to prove these claims to the satisfaction of this court and on a balance of probabilities. I find that Nantaba did not commit any electoral offences during the electoral process and that the elections of the District Woman representative of Parliament in Kayunga District were conducted in compliance with the electoral laws and principles. This Petition is accordingly dismissed with costs to Nantaba and EC,” Lady Justice Mukwaya ruled.
Tebyasa applauded the high court for administering justice to her client, saying that they are currently preparing a file for the bill of costs.
Nakwede promised to comment on the ruling after consulting her lawyers. This is the last election petition against Nantaba to be dismissed by Mukono High Court.
The first application was filed by Jackeline Kobusingye Birungi challenging Nantaba’s academic qualifications. The second petition was filed by Ritah Nabadda, a voter in Kayunga who had prepared video evidence showing Nantaba bribing voters.
The court dismissed Birungi’s petition for lack of evidence while Nabadda’s petition was thrown out because of failure to collect the signatures of 500 registered voters from Kayunga district. Nabadda has since appealed the decision in the Court of Appeal.