By Andante Okanya
A Pallisa district politician and the Electoral Commission (EC) are split over the implementation of a High Court order that tasked the body to organise a fresh poll for the Akisim sub-county LC III chairperson seat, Agule County.
According to court documents filed against EC on Monday at the High Court in Kampala, Lawrence Oging, accuses the body of deliberately declining to hold a fresh poll.
On September 29, 2011, trial judge Margaret Oguli of the High Court in Mbale, ordered a fresh poll, citing irregularities, on the prompting of Oging. His lawyers are from the firm Oging and Company Advocates.
In the polls held on March 7, 2011, NRM's Julius Okaki emerged victor with 1,409 votes, while Oging(FDC) polled 1,236 votes. Independent candidate Stephen Okodoi polled a miserly 169 votes.
Oging wants EC to be faulted for contempt of court, stating that the electoral body's failure to comply with the court order has inflicted misery on him. Oging has sworn an affidavit.
"The respondent's failure to organise a by-election for LCIII chairperson Akisim sub-county has deprived me of my constitutional right to participate in the democratisation process as well as depriving the populace of Akisim to deliver a leader of their choice through a free and fair electoral process," Oging contends.
Court documents show that disatisfied with Justice Oguli's decision, Okaki appeal at the Court of Appeal in Kampala but his request was dismissed on grounds that his assertions lacked merit.
Oging says despite several reminders to the EC to effect the order, his pleas have been snubbed. Among the court documents, are three letters from Oging's lawyers addressed to the EC secretary (Sam Rwakoojo). One letter is dated October 19, 2011, another February 6, 2012, while the most recent is dated January 23, 2013.
In a letter dated December 9, 2011, Oging's lawyers also petitioned the Pallisa chief administrative officer, querying Okaki's receipt of salary plus allowances. A protest letter was also copied to the Inspector General of Government (then Raphael Baku).
The case file has been allocated to Justice Benjamin Kabiito. However, a hearing date is yet to be scheduled. EC is yet to file its court documents in response to Oging's claims.
Asked why the EC is yet to comply with the order, EC spokesperson Jotham Taremwa on Thursday told New Vision regretted the predicament, attributing the pending countrywide by-elections to a lack of tribunals, whose mandate falls under the docket of the judiciary.
"There are pending by-elections not only in Akisim but in other places like Ntungamo, Kamwenge, and Kanungu. Tribunals have not been put in place by the judiciary, so our hands are tied.It's a step we can't jump, and we have to work closely with the judiciary,"Taremwa said.
He explained that the voter register can only be updated after the judiciary has instituted tribunals, to enable the commission kickstart the process of organising the by-election.
Judiciary spokesperson Erias Kisawuzi was not readily available for a comment.