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Court throws out application seeking EC to provide biometric machines

 Fort Portal High Court. URN photo

Fort Portal, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Fort Portal High Court has thrown out an application asking the Electoral Commission-EC to produce and present to court Biometric Voter Verification–BVV machines.

The application was filed on Monday by Jackson Mbaju Kathika, the loser of the Busongora County MP election, in Kasese district. Mbaju lost to Gideon Mujungu in the January elections with 7,601 votes while Mbajui garnered 7,522 votes.

In his application filed by his lawyers led by Guma Davis, Mbaju asked the court to compel the commission to produce the BVV machines and certified copies of voter registers for Katunguru market, Katunguru Primary and Busunga Primary school polling stations.

Mbaju argued that the electoral commission introduced the BVV machines to conduct a free and fair election but abandoned their use at these stations and allowed multiple voting and ballot stuffing in favour of his rival Gideon Mujungu Thembo.

But the EC Principal Legal Officer Enoch Kugonza argued that this application did not have any merit since it was not filed in time. He also says that Mbaju did not prove to the court that he had tried to request for the machines and voter registers and failed.

Lady Justice Victoria Katamba dismissed the application on grounds that the BVV machines are not the only evidence to prove the allegations by Mbaju. She was also convinced by the commission submission that the machines are cleaned after six months from the time of use.

“The applicant had ample time under the Access to Information Act from the time the election was held to the time of bringing this election, he had time to demand the documents required as well as the machines” the justice ruled.

Mujungu’s lawyer Silas Mugabe Kahima said that matters of elections are of public interest and must be disposed off within a defined time. He also argued that securing the machines from Kampala to Fort Portal would itself have delayed justice.

Kugonza also told URN that it would practically be impossible to carry the machines to court within the defined time of the court.

But Mbaju’s lawyers Guma Davis are still hopeful that the available affidavits are enough to have the case in their favour.

Meanwhile, the High Court in Fort Portal led by Justice Jeanne Rwakakooko adjourned the hearing of the Bundibugyo LCV election petition to allow time for lawyers to summarize the case through written submissions.

In the petition filed by former Bundibugyo LCV Ronald Mutegeki, he is challenging the victory of Robert Tibakunirwa who was announced the winner of the January 2021 election after polling 36,385 votes, while Mutegeki polled 32,510 votes.

Steven Galabuzi, one of the lawyers representing Mutegeki said they have been given up to September 7 for all parties in the case to have put in their submissions for judgment.



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