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Ssenyonyi’s rival seeks permission to file amended election petition in court

Nakawa West legislator Joel Ssenyonyi’s election is being contested in court. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The former Nakawa West Parliamentary candidate Mukesh Babubhai Shukla has filed an application seeking permission to file an amended petition against his rival Joel Ssenyonyi, three months after filing the same before the High Court. Mukesh Babubhai Shukla, who came sixth in the just concluded elections filed a petition before the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala on March 19th 2021, challenging the Electoral Commission’s decision to declare Ssenyonyi the winner of the Jan 14th 2021 polls.

He however says that there are certain facts that are material to the effective judicial inquiry into the petition, which came to his knowledge after filing his petition. “The time within which to amend the petition has since elapsed and any amendment can only be by leave of court. The applicant did file an amended petition without leave of the court which they presently seek”, reads the August 11th, 2021 application before the court. The businessman cum politician wants the court to grant him leave to file an amended petition by way of validation of the same petition, which is already in court.

According to the evidence before court that URN has seen, Mukesh through his lawyers, Ssemwanga, Muwazi and Company Advocates and Bwango Araali and Company Advocates, filed the amended petition on May 10th 2021 without court permission to do so, despite elapse of the time for filing such an application in March, which is thirty days after gazetting the winners.

In the amended petition, Mukesh raises discrepancies in the name of Ssenyonyi’s academic qualifications. He claims during his Ordinary and Advanced levels of education, the legislator passed off as Joel Besekezi but the person nominated to run for the Nakawa West Parliamentary seat was Ssenyonyi B. Joel. According to Mukesh, when he tried to look for Ssenyonyi’s academic papers, he discovered that St Lawrence Schools and Colleges Crown City Campus, which he claims to have studied from was none existent in 2010, which is indicated on the slip.

Mukesh thus asked the court to throw Ssenyonyi out of parliament and order fresh elections in Nakawa West constituency. However in his response to the application, Ssenyonyi’s lawyers of PACE Advocates explain that their client adopted the name Joel Besekezi Ssenyonyi through a deed poll sworn on September 2nd 2010, which was gazetted on February 8th 2013.

A certified copy of a Statutory declaration signed by Nicholas Tumwebaze, the Registrar at Uganda Registration Services Bureau-URSB on October 7th 2020 shows that although Ssenyonyi sat his Primary, Ordinary and Advanced levels of education exams in the name of Besekezi Joel, he registered as Joel Besekezi Ssenyonyi while enrolling for the National Identification Card. The same names appear on the National voter’s register.

“For and on behalf of myself wholly renounce, relinquish and abandon the use of my former name Joel Besekezi, so that I may hereafter be called, known and distinguished not by my former name Joel Besekezi but the assumed name of Joel Besekezi Ssenyonyi”, reads the deed poll in part. It adds that. “for the purpose of evidencing such my determination declare that I shall at all times here after in all record deeds and writings, and in all proceedings, dealing and transactions both private and public and upon transactions whatsoever, use and sign the name Joel Besekezi Ssenyonyi, in substitution for my former name Joel Besekezi”.

On the issue of sitting his senior six exams at a nonexistent school, Ssenyonyi says that by the time he did his exams, the school was known as St Lawrence High School Lubaga but has since changed both the location and the name and is now called St Lawrence High School Crown City. “That subsequently, when I went to pick my UACE Certificate sometime in 2010, I found out that the school had changed both location and name and was now known as St Lawrence High School Crown City”, he argues.

Ssenyonyi’s lawyers led by George Musisi now want both the original and amended petitions against their client dismissed for lacking merit and having been filed out of time. They want the court to confirm that Ssenyonyi was the duly elected Nakawa West Member of Parliament.

Mukesh’s application comes at the time when the various High Court Circuits in the country are ready to start hearing parliamentary and local government election petitions starting on August 16th 2021.

Ssenyonyi ran for the Nakawa West Parliamentary seat on the National Unity Platform party ticket. He defeated eleven other contenders after obtaining 31,653 votes. His National Resistance Movement-NRM rival, Margaret Zziwa Nantongo came second with 9,450 votes followed by Kenneth Paul Kakande in the third position with 2,780 votes, the Forum for Democratic Change candidate, Wilberforce Kyambadde came fourth with 1,512 votes while Independent candidate Acer Godfrey Okot took the fifth position with 931 votes.

Shukla Mukesh Babubhai came sixth with 806 votes followed by Robert Asiimwe with 668 votes, Christine Gloria Katusiime 479 votes, Robert Kasozi from the People’s Progressive Party 300, Zachariah Isabirye 280, Aisha Wanyama 239 votes whereas Emmanuel Tebisuula Sserumaga trailed the pack with 196 votes.

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