FDC's Katuntu was declared the winner of the seat with 23,596 votes against Ibaale's 23,195 votes
Former National Resistance Movement (NRM) aspirant of Bugweri County in Iganga district, Daniel Ibaale has asked court to nullify Abdu Katuntu’s election over alleged defamation.
Ibaale through his lawyer Hassan Kamba told court that Katuntu damaged his reputation before the voters when he branded him a foreigner whose residence was not known in the constituency and therefore not fit for the seat.
“My lords any false statement made against a candidate by his/her competitor is enough to a annul the elections,” Kamba said.
Court documents indicate that Katuntu during his rallies told the voters in the constituency that Ibaale was not fit to represent the people of Bugweri County since his residence was not known and came from a local lodge for nomination.
According to Ibaale, Katuntu’s words did not only damage his reputation but also denied him an opportunity to represent the people of Bugweri County.
Katuntu, who stood on a Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) ticket was declared the winner of the seat with 23,596 votes against Ibaale's 23,195 votes.
Court was presided over by a panel of three justices led by the Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma with Richard Buteera and Remmy Kasule.
Kamba also argued that the lower court did not give him an opportunity to reply to Katuntu’s submission, which he says contravenes provisions of the Constitution which provides for a fair hearing.
Kamba faulted High Court Judge, Margaret Mutonyi for overruling the evidence of his witnesses over failure to mention the exact defamatory words uttered by Katutntu to defame him.
“We call upon the court to find that the statements were calculated by Katutntu for campaign gains,” Kamba said.
Kamba further argued that Katutntu engaged in electoral violence, which resulted in a number of voters being assaulted by his supporters. He tendered in court their medical forms to back-up his allegations.
In reply, Katuntu’s lawyers led by Medard Sseggona told court that the words were mere political appraisals, which does not amount to defamation.
“My lord, politics is a game of competition and no competitor will ever praise his opponents. The said words were about Ibaale’s character during the election period but not his general life as an individual. It was his responsibility to disapprove Katuntu’s claims before the voters,” Ssegona said.
Sseggona submitted that Katuntu categorically stated that Ibaale came from a lodge for his nomination but never said that he stays in a lodge.
On branding Ibaale a foreigner, Sseggona said that Katuntu meant that he had never voted in Bugweri County and it does not amount to sectarianism as he alleges.
“We pray that court finds that the trial judge rightly dismissed the application,” Sseggona said.
Judge Mutonyi upheld Katuntu's victory after Ibaale failed to produce enough evidence to prove that Katuntu breached election regulations during his campaign for re-election as MP. Katuntu has been the Bugweri County MP since 2001.
Justice Kavuma said both parties would be notified when the judgement is ready.