• Oct 15, 2021 . 2 min Read
  • More Members of Parliament retain seats after court battles

Masika and Wambede
Joseph Wanzusi
Journalist @New Vision

The High Court in Mbale has thrown out more election petitions and validated the election of two MPs — Apollo Masika Wandiba and Seth Wambede Kizangi Massa.

Anthony Wameli of the National Unity Platform (NUP), who got 4,047 votes, had in his petition against Namisindwa County MP Apollo Masika, alleged that the latter was not qualified to be elected Member of Parliament because the academic documents he presented to the Electoral Commission for nomination were not his. Wameli added that Masika had bribed voters with a donation of sh100,000 to Bumumali Church of Uganda building committee and solar power panels to Bumumali Primary School during the campaign period.

In her ruling, however, Justice Joyce Kavuma, in a verdict delivered to the litigants by the High Court acting registrar James Mawanda Jumire Eremye, ruled that the petitioner and his witnesses failed to prove to court that Masika donated money to a church building committee and a solar panel to a primary school in Namisindwa district during the parliamentary campaigns.

Justice Kavuma further ruled that Masika had the academic qualifications to run for the Namisindwa County parliamentary seat, contrary to claims by Wameli that Masika did not attend school and the academic documents bearing the names of Apollo Masika Wandiba presented to the Electoral Commission at nomination time belonged to another person.

The judge, therefore, dismissed the petition with costs and declared Masika, who garnered 10,230 votes, as a validly elected MP for Namisindwa County, Namisindwa district. Both Masika and Wameli were not physically in court, but were represented by their lawyers.

According to the Electoral Commission, the Namisindwa County parliamentary elections attracted five other candidateswho included independent candidates Wilbroad Wandende Nakhabala (4,041 votes), John Bosco Mupuya Wopuwa (1,652 votes), Rogers Khabusi Kutosi (476 votes) Stephen Lukunyu Mwelu (115 votes) and Forum for Democratic Change’s Stephen Mulyalya (183 votes).

At the same court where the Police had deployed heavily for any eventuality, Justice Kavuma also dismissed with costs a petition filed by NUP candidate Ivan Masaba, who wanted court to overturn the election of Seth Kizangi Massa Wambede (NRM) who garnered 9,854 votes to win Northern city division constituency parliamentary seat in Mbale city.

Masaba, who got 9,413 votes, had claimed that the Electoral Commission had not conducted the parliamentary elections in a free and fair manner and that the candidate (Wambede) who was declared winner, participated in election malpractices, including violence and pre-ticking of ballot papers at Makosi trading centre polling station.

Justice Kavuma said in the verdict read to the litigants by Eremye the petition failed to prove to court that there were substantial irregularities that denied Masaba victory as alleged in the petition.

Lawyer Geoffrey Turyamusiima of Wameli and Company Advocates said they were not satisfied with the Judge’s verdict and are to seek redress in the Court of Appeal.

Wambede said he is not bothered about Masaba’s appeal against the ruling, adding that some people find it difficult to accept defeat in a political election contest where there must be a winner and loser.

Asked whether he will forgive Masaba not to pay costs of suit as ruled by court, Wambede said the issue of costs against the petition loser will be handled by a committee headed by his lawyersOther candidates who contested for the Mbale northern city division seat included former MP Sizomu Gershom Wambedde, Umar Nangoli, Paul Mugoya Wanyoto, Peter Magomu Mashate, Jackson Aryampa, Imani Mafabi Magala, Denis Webisa and Mohamed Wandera.

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