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Election petition: Judge directs Nabakooba, Bagala to file written submissions

Mityana District Woman MP Joyce Bagala at court. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Justice Emmanuel Baguma has directed Judith Nabakooba and her rival, Joyce Bagala to file written submissions in the Mityana District Woman MP election dispute. He directed Nabakooba to file her written submissions of not more than 30 pages by September 12, and allow Mityana District Woman MP, Bagala and the Electoral Commission-EC to respond by September 19.

Nabakooba is expected to make a rejoinder to the submissions by September 23. Thereafter, Justice will communicate to the parties the date of delivering judgement through the mail. The judge’s directive follows the marathon cross-examination of 12 witnesses among them Bagala and Mityana district returning officer Stephen Makubuya on Saturday and Sunday.

Other witnesses including polling agents and officials were cross-examined by Nabakooba’s lawyers led by Alfred Okello Oryem. Nabakooba dragged Bagala to court after she trounced her with a margin of 16,000 votes in the January 14, 2021 polls.

She accused Bagala and the Electoral Commission of failing to ensure secure conditions necessary for the conduct of the election, which kept away registered voters from exercising their right to vote freely. She alleges that presiding officers from the Commission connived with Bagala and her agents to execute a well-organized scheme to procure prohibited persons to vote and facilitate impersonation of voters and multiple voting.

She also accused Bagala’s camp of intimidating her agents, invalidating valid votes cast for her, obstructing voters and giving voters pre-ticked ballot papers. However, during cross-examination, Bagala denied any wrongdoing and told the court that although the election was not perfect, it was free and fair.

She also revealed that one of her agents identified as Norah Nantongo asked for Shillings 1 million to bribe voters, which she rejected. Mityana District Returning Officer Stephen Makubuya also told the court that the elections were free and fair since he did not receive any written complaint from the agents nor electoral officials.

On the issue of signing declaration forms before the closure of the polls, Makubuya said it was in contravention of the training given to the officials before the elections commenced.

At the hearing, the court observed that a number of witnesses who were set to be cross-examined did not turn up. Nabakooba’s lawyer, Oryem asked the court to treat the five affidavits as untested evidence, saying they will present them in their submissions.

Godfrey Musinguzi, the lawyer of the EC, said that three witnesses were unable to appear in court but their sworn statements shall be included in the submissions. Chrysostom Katumba, the lead lawyer of Bagala also asked the court to consider the statements of the witnesses as untested evidence.

Bagala later told URN in an interview that she will base her defence on the truth, which will form the court’s decision.

Nabakooba said that she is satisfied with the evidence presented in the court leading her to the recovery of her victory. She said that there were a lot of irregularities in the election process, which messed up the entire process.

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