The Court of Appeal sitting in Kampala has set aside a decision by High court Judge Ketra Katunguka nullifying the victory of Christine Ndiwalana Nandagire as Bukomansimbi North Member of Parliament.

A panel of the three Justices comprising Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Steven Musota and Christopher Gashirabake quashed the decision on grounds that the petition by Nandagire’s rival, Ruth Katushabe, which led to the nullification of her victory was filed outside the stipulated time.

Nandagire, who ran on the National Unity Platform-NUP party ticket trounced her NRM rival after polling 9,617 votes against 6,599 votes. Katushabe ran to Masaka high court citing inconsistencies in Nandagire’s academic documents.

She claimed that Nandagire was nominated based on a non-existent Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education Certificate -UACE, which she allegedly obtained in 1997 yet she reportedly never enrolled for A ‘level.

Katushabe further argued that although Nandagire attended Ordinary Secondary Education Level, her admission to senior one was invalid because she failed Primary the Leaving Examinations.

In her verdict, Justice Ketra Katunguka agreed with Katushabe and nullified Nandagire’s victory, saying that lied on oath about the details of her academic documents, adding that even when she was given the opportunity she failed to present certified copies of her alleged UACE and Nursing and Midwifery Certificates.

Dissatisfied with the decision, Nandagire appealed the verdict through her lawyers of Lukwago and Company Advocates raising six grounds. Nandagire contended that the Judge erred in law and fact when she found that she had lied on oath by stating that she had UACE qualifications.

According to Nandagire, the Lady Justice failed to evaluate the evidence on record hence reaching the wrong conclusion that she lacked the requisite Advanced level certificate or its equivalent to stand as a Member of Parliament.

She asked the Court of Appeal to overturn Katunguka’s decision and uphold her victory as declared by the Electoral Commission. Katushabe also filed an appeal, saying that she was not happy with the Judge for failing to declare her the winner.

She faulted the Judge for failing to refer to the judgement in the matter of Wakayima Nsereko Musoke against Robert Kasule Ssebunya where the Court declared the first runner up in the 2016 Nansana Municipality elections winner.

In their ruling read by the Court of Appeal Registrar, Lillian Bucyana, the court of appeal judges faulted the High court for entertaining Katushabe’s petition on grounds that it was filed late. They argued that Katushabe should have filed a complaint with the Electoral Commission during the nomination process.

“Therefore a petitioner in an election petition who did not bring complaints within a stipulated time at the time of nomination under section 15 of Parliamentary Elections Act and Electoral Commission Act is stopped from doing so after the election because he or she is taken to have waived his rights to complain within the stipulated period,” said the Justices.

Section 15 of the Parliamentary Elections Act states that any voter registered on the voters roll of a constituency may during office hours on the nomination day at the office of the Returning Officer, inspect any nomination paper filed with the returning officer in respect of the constituency, and file a complaint if at all that voter has issues with someone’s documents who has been nominated.

The judges allowed Nandagire’s appeal and ordered Katushabe to pay the costs of the suit, saying the trial judge erred in law and fact in entertaining such complaints.

Nandagire, who was escorted to the appellant Court by dozens of her cheerful and jolly supporters told Uganda Radio Network that she came seeking justice, which she has finally obtained. URN

Kungu Al-Mahadi Adam is a Ugandan Journalist with passion for current African affairs.

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