The Court of Appeal has today given NRM’s Nathan Nabeta another chance to vie for the Jinja Municipality East seat after it partially overturned a High court judgment that had declared FDC’s Paul Mwiru the rightfully elected MP of the constituency.
On July 18, 2016, High court judge Lydia Mugambe kicked NRM’s Nathan Igeme Nabeta out of parliament and declared Mwiru as the duly-elected MP for Jinja Municipality East.
Mwiru’s petition had zeroed on one polling station, found in Walukuba-Masese division, called Dainda A-D. He contended that the results declared there were fraudulent.
Through his lawyers Peter Walubiri, Caleb Alaka and Medard Lubega Sseggona, Mwiru cited the alteration of results at the given polling station where he got 228 votes against Nabeta’s 214, but the Electoral Commission announced 507 votes for his opponent.
Ironically, Nabeta’s relative, one Sulamain Bansia, was the returning officer at that polling station. In her analysis of the case, Justice Mugambe said the results which were used to declare Nabeta winner were fabricated.
“I wonder how a polling station with 400 registered voters could have results where the winner polled 507 votes,” Justice Mugambe said.
Living up to her reputation as the a no-nonsense judge, Mugambe further questioned how some EC officials’ sworn affidavits in support of Nabeta’s election yet they had participated in the exercise on behalf of the electoral body.
“I expect you the first respondent [Nabeta] to immediately vacate the parliamentary seat because you were unlawfully declared the winner in the election and Mwiru should take over because he truly won the election,” she concluded.
Dissatisfied with Mugambe’s holding, Nabeta, through his litany of lawyers led by Kiryowa Kiwanuka, dashed to the Court of Appeal. They accused justice Mugambe of failing to properly evaluate the evidence on records and thus arrive to a wrong conclusion that Nabeta was not validly elected.
But today morning, appeal justices led by Justice Steven Kavuma (who has retired), Richard Buteera and Paul Mugamba (who have since been promoted to the Supreme court) agreed with Mugambe in their judgment on one thing – that the election was tainted with fraud.
They, however, disagreed with the thrust of her ruling which declared Mwiru the winner of the election on grounds that the whole election was discredited for any person, be it Nabeta or Mwiru, to be declared winner. “We respectfully disagree with her conclusion as such,” theCourt of Appeal judgment partly reads, “with the existence of all the irregularities in the electoral process at Danida (A-D) community polling station as documented, we find that the integrity of the results has been tainted.”
According to Kavuma, Buteera and Mugamba, Nabeta was blameless in this whole mayhem. They strangely placed the blame on the Electoral Commission for what they termed as failing to comply with the electoral laws when conducting the elections of Danida (A-D) polling station, thus putting the entire results in doubt.
“We cannot, therefore, be seen to prefer such results to ascertain the true results for that polling station,” the judges who awarded Mwiru costs for both the High court and Court of Appeal ruled. “Needless to say this affects the results for entire constituency. We, therefore, go on to declare the seat vacant.”
After the ruling, Mwiru who was flanked by his lawyer Peter Walubiri explained that although he was disappointed by cancellation of his High court victory, he was ready for the by-election.
“We are partially disappointed. But we are ready for the by-election. We are going to win,” said Mwiru, who represented Jinja Municipality East between 2011 and 2016.