Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | High Court has directed the Electoral Commission to provide certified copies of voter registers used at three polling stations at Summit View in Kololo, during the 2021 Kampala Central parliamentary elections.
Justice Jesse Byaruhanga Rugyema issued the directive on Monday afternoon during the hearing of the petition by the former National Unity Platform-NUP Kampala Central Parliament candidate Fred Nyanzi Ssentamu, challenging the victory of his rival and incumbent, Muhammad Nsereko.
Nyanzi garnered 15,975 votes against 16,998 votes polled by Nsereko. The National Resistance Movement-NRM candidate Babu Cedric Ndilima, came third with 10,746 votes, while the Forum for Democratic Change candidate Harold Kaija trailed the pack with 1,679 votes. On Monday, Nyanzi’s lawyers led by Justin Semuyaba, who are pushing for a vote recount, presented copies of uncertified voter’s registers.
This is one of the many documents including affidavits and ballot papers, that were allegedly about to be stuffed, and unsigned declaration forms that Nyanzi wants to rely on to assure the court that the election was marred by irregularities and therefore non-compliant with the electoral laws. Nyanzi argues that some of the presiding officers denied his agents access to 53 voting areas such as Summit View, Nakasero 1 and 2, and Hoima Flats among others.
He also says that he had done an audit and found out that 2,577 votes couldn’t be accounted for since they were not given to any candidate. Court also further heard that the declaration forms were never signed by Nyanzi’s agents since they were blocked. The Electoral Commission lawyer Eric Sabiiti, argued that the voting register that Nyanzi was relying on wasn’t certified by the Commission and cannot be relied upon to give actual information.
However, Nyanzi’s lawyer insisted that the copy was reliable because they downloaded it from the Electoral Commission website and tasked Sabiiti to tell court if the information on their website is not reliable. In response, Sabiiti said he was willing to provide a certified copy to the court and not to the petitioner.
As a result, Justice Jesse Byaruhanga Rugyema ordered the Electoral Commission to provide a certified copy of the register within seven days. This is the second time the case is coming up for hearing before the High Court.
After losing the January 14th, 2021 polls, Nyanzi petitioned court to overturn Nsereko’s victory citing the alleged failure by the Electoral Commission to ensure that the tallying is done per electoral laws, the failure by the presiding officers to submit results from seven polling stations, and inconsistencies in the number of votes presented on the declaration of result forms among others. However, Justice Margaret Apiny dismissed the application on grounds that Nyanzi had failed to serve Nsereko.
He appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal, which ruled in his favor. A panel of three Court of Appeal justices comprising Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Stephen Musota, and Christopher Gashirabake ordered a retrial in June before a different judge, saying Nyanzi followed the legal and reasonable steps to serve Nsereko.