Kampala, Uganda | GODFREY SSALI | The Court of Appeal Tuesday nullified the election of Andrew Martial, the Member of Parliament for Igara County East Constituency in Busheny district on grounds of bribery of voters, and the offence of making a false statement concerning the character of a candidate and ordered fresh elections.
Three Justices; Richard Buteera, Fredrick Egonda Ntende and Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo found that MP Martial committed the said illegal practices, which was sufficient cause for annulling his election.
“This appeal is allowed with costs against Martial. The election of Martial is annulled and fresh parliamentary elections are ordered for the Igara East Constituency in Bushenyi district,” the Justices issued the directive in their joint ruling.
The Justices ruled that they are satisfied with video evidence showing Martial holding a meeting with his agents at Mafari Albert’s home, whose sole purpose was to discuss bribery of voters on his behalf, and the MP paid 1.5m shs for distribution.
Michael Mawanda, a former MP of the area who contested as an independent candidate in the parliamentary elections for the constituency in 2016, had petitioned High Court challenging the election of Martial as the validly elected MP, on grounds that it was marred with bribery.
The judges noted that on the night of February 17, 2016, an agent of Martial, a one Barirere James went to the home of a one Mugisha Fred, a registered voter and gave him 20,000 shs, asking him to vote for Martial.
The Justices further noted that his political rival Micheal Mawanda proved that Martial caused the publication and distribution of flyers prior to the election in the Constituency of Igara County East, where both of them were candidates, by hiring a boda boda rider to ferry the person who distributed defamatory flyers around the constituency.
The flyers contained Mawanda’s photograph which painted him as a person only bent on impoverishing the people who he aspired to represent in parliament, and Martial called on voters to shun Mawanda for the good of their future; which statements undermined Mawanda’s political prospects.
The judges allowed Mawanda’s appeal, ordered for fresh elections and asked Martial to pay him costs.
However, Mawanda’s appeal against the Electoral Commission failed and the Justices have ordered him to pay the commission costs both in the High Court and Court of Appeal.
Mawanda had accused the electoral commission of conducting the said election without following the electoral laws.
Mawanda had lost the petition in the High Court in October last year and being dissatisfied, he appealed.
In the hotly contested February polls, Mawanda polled 15,091 votes while Martial polled 15,983 votes.