By Daniel Edyegu
JACOB Oboth has dragged the NRM party to court contesting the declaration of his rival, Dr. Emmanuel Otaala, as the victor in the recent party elections for the West Budama South county seat in Tororo district.Oboth is the former eastern region principal resident state attorney.
Through his lawyers, Dagira and company advocates, Oboth filed a suit at Mbale High Court, seeking to nullify the results of the August 30 NRM primaries to elect the party flag-bearer. West Budama county comprises Rubongi, Nabiyoga, Mulanda, Iyolwa and Magola sub-counties.
He argued that Otaala, who is the labour state minister, inflated the number of villages and NRM voters in Iyolwa sub-county where he comes from with the aim of rigging the elections.
Oboth said whereas Iyolwa has four parishes and 30 villages, Otaala connived with the district party electoral officials to increase the number to 10 parishes with 154 villages.
â€œAs a result of the six fictitious parishes and 124 ghost villages, the total NRM voter population in Iyolwa soared to 17,100 voters, way beyond the updated national electoral commission register with 7,074 voters.
After thorough scrutiny, we established that Iyolwa has only 3,309 valid NRM voters,â€ Oboth said.
On August 27, Oboth sought a court injunction barring the NRM from carrying out elections in Iyolwa pending the cleaning of the sub-countyâ€™s party register.
However, the party ignored the injunction and held the polls. Basing on the initial results from Rubongi, Magola, Mulanda and Nabiyoga sub-counties, Oboth was declared winner after polling 17,835 votes against Otaalaâ€™s 11,123.
However, during the partyâ€™s recent national conference at Namboole, Felistus Magomu, the NRM electoral commission chairperson, declared Otaala winner basing on results from Iyolwa sub-county, which showed the minister scored 12,841 votes against Obothâ€™s 159.
â€œHow could the NRM declare the results in Iyolwa in disregard of the court injunction and the anomalies in the party register? Can the NRM observe the rule of law even when it hurts? My initial victory might have made some people ask â€˜who is this Oboth to defeat the minister?,â€ Oboth said.
Mbale High Court is yet to schedule a date to start hearing the case. Justice Stephen Musota was scheduled to start hearing the case on Tuesday, but was caught up in another criminal session.
The court is expected to rule on the case before October 20 to allow the candidates ample time to prepare for the electoral commission nominations expected to kick off in November.