Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A section of former Makerere University students has petitioned the high court challenging Convocation elections held in December last year. The petitioners led by former contestants Robert Rutaaro, Gerald Karuhanga, and Charles Odongtho through their lawyers of Elgon Advocates are seeking the nullification of the elections, arguing that they didn’t follow established rules.
The petitioners are seeking an order quashing all decisions and resolutions taken during the annual general meeting of the Makerere University Convocation held on December 30, 2022, on grounds that they are tainted with illegality, irrationality, unreasonableness, and procedural impropriety.
They are also seeking an order directing the academic registrar who is also the returning officer to immediately convene another annual general meeting of the Makerere University convocation in which all activities and agenda are in accordance with the law.
According to the petition, Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza, the Academic Registrar who is designated as the returning officer of the convocation abdicated his duties of convening the Annual General Meeting as required by the law, and irregularly delegated the responsibility to the Convocation Executive led by the chairperson, Dr. Tanga Odoi.
Makerere University Convocation is the statutory body that brings together its staff and alumni. The body is established by the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act. On December 30, 2022, the University convocation convened to elect new leaders that would replace the current executive led by Dr. Tanga Odoi whose term is ending in April 2023.
George Turyamureba, who is said to have been favored by Odoi’s team emerged victorious after many of his worthwhile competitors stepped down. The Annual General meeting failed to agree on anything starting with the agenda of the day.
Many members led by the candidates highlighted numerous hitches that would not enable the election to go on smoothly. Many of the people who turned up to participate in the process questioned the verification system of voters, saying the returning officer delayed publishing the lists of voters and left out many people who had come to vote.
Besides the register, there was late delivery of voting materials which delayed the start of the exercise which had initially been planned for 9 am but by 3 pm, the election had not taken place prompting candidates to call for a postponement. Amidst the heavy military deployment, Tanga and Buyinza insisted the elections would go on as scheduled prompting chaos to break out in the Yusuf Kironde Lule Teaching Facility auditorium where the elections were taking place.
The military and police commanded by Gerald Twishimwe, the Commander of Kampala Metropolitan Police North stormed the Auditorium and violently dragged out all those who were against the elections. In the process, at least four people were arrested and seven out of the nine candidates stepped down accusing Odoi of messing up the exercise.
Speaking to journalists after the election, Tanga Odoi, the Chairperson of the Convocation said that some of the convocation members whom he referred to as hooligans behaved in a violent manner which prompted the Police to come in and restore peace. He accused them of turning the convocation into a political election in contravention of the Convocation’s rules which resulted in chaos.