Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Court of Appeal has upheld the victory of Wilfred Niwagaba as the Ndorwa East Member of Parliament.
Niwagaba’s victory was challenged by Dr. Protazio Begumisa, the former National Resistance Movement-NRM party candidate on allegations of bribery and falsification of results during the January 2021 elections.
The Electoral Commission declared Niwagaba as the winner with 15,962 votes while Begumisa obtained 15,826 votes.
In November, Kabale High Court Judge Phillip Odoki dismissed Begumisa’s petition with costs for lack of sufficient evidence to support his claims.
Begumisa then filed an appeal faulting the Judge for failing to evaluate the evidence brought before the court.
However, when the matter came up for hearing last month before a panel of Court of Appeal Justices comprised of Elizabeth Musoke, Muzamiru Mutangula Kibeedi, and Monica Mugenyi Nuwagaba, the Electoral Commission filed applications seeking to dismiss the appeal.
This was on grounds that Begumisa did not file and serve his Memorandum of Appeal and the Record of Appeal in accordance with the law.
Through his lawyers, Medard Lubega Sseggona and Theodore Ssekikubo, Niwagaba and the Electoral Commission’s Eric Sabiiti argued that the appeal was filed on November 12, 2021, and served on November 18 and 24 respectively.
They added that the Notice of Appeal was also filed on November 4, 2021 which means that the appeal showing grounds to challenge the High Court decision should have been filed on November 11, 2021. The law requires one to file his appeal within seven days after filing the Notice of Appeal, and also to serve the parties within seven days after the grounds of appeal have been filed.
In their ruling, the Justices have struck off Begumisa’s appeal for failure to take essential steps governing election matters.
The Justices have noted that the Memorandum of Appeal was not only filed out of time but also there was no effort that was made to serve the Record of Appeal on the applicants at all, nor was any attempt made to seek an extension of time within which to undertake the requisite procedural steps.
They noted that Begumisa did not bother to utilize the remedies available to him under the Court of Appeal Rules where one can use the rules to validate an appeal filed out of time.
“….in the present applications, no effort was made by the Respondent/Begumisa to seek to extend the time within which the actions caught by limitation of time could be undertaken. No application for the extension of time was filed within this matter”, said the Justices.
Begumisa has however been exempted from paying the costs of both the High Court and the Court of Appeal on grounds that given the slim vote margin he was defeated with, he was entitled to verify the authenticity of the electoral process.
The EC lawyer Eric Sabiiti has welcomed the decision saying it puts an end to the election matters in Ndorwa East Constituency.