The much anticipated petition by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party challenging the election of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC)’s Paul Mwiru as Jinja East legislator has become practical.
NRM lawyers today presented the petition to the High Court in Jinja, praying that Mwiru’s victory is nullified.
Mwiru was declared winner of the hotly contested race against NRM’s Nathan Igeme Nabeeta.
According to the results announced by the Electoral Commission, Mwiru got 6,654 while his closes challenger; Nabeta got 5,043. The two were followed by an independent candidate – Faisal Masaba who managed 117 votes.
The rest of the candidates trailed scoring below one hundred votes each. This was the fourth time the two were facing off. And if NRM, which has decided to challenge the result in court wins, there might be a fifth face-off ahead.
Although voting was delayed by the downpour that started around 6am and went on throughout the afternoon, voters turned up in good numbers at the various polling stations.
But a day after the elections, NRM Secretary General, Justine Kasule Lumumba called a press conference and rejected the results.
At the press conference Lumumba who was flanked by the party spokesman, Rogers Mulindwa, Jinja West MP, Moses Grace Balyeku and Igeme himself.
Lumumba said that the election was riddled with electoral malpractices including, multiple voting by known members of the opposition, voter bribery, intimidation, violence against Nabeta’s supporters.
“We are in possession of evidence that the election was riddled with malpractices and we have submitted this evidenced so far collected to our legal team to assess and advise us on our next move,” said Ms Lumumba.
Lumumba added that if the legal team finds it suitable, they will challenge the results in the courts of law.
“Known NRM supporters were warned of dire consequences should NRM emerge victorious; goons were stationed at residences of many NRM supporters to scare them away from polling stations,” she said
NRM further charged that the chairman of its election taskforce had been roughed up and windscreens of their buses smashed by opposition supporters. During a briefing on cabinet decisions at the Uganda Media Centre on Tuesday March 20, 2018, information minister Frank Tumwebaze said Lumumba had briefed ministers on the legal action the party intends to take.
Since Monday April 9, 2018, police in Jinja in collaboration with other security operatives have been carrying out arrests in Jinja Municipality East.
Among those who were only released on police bond after five days of detention is at various police stations are Jinja Municipal council Speaker Morrison Bizitu, former Walukuba Masese Division LC III chairman, Muhammed Musisi Kibugudhu Badman, Jinja Central Division councilor representing PWDs, Joseph Kintu and another FDC supporter, Peter Nagano. These were arrested together with 10 Electoral Commission officials who presided over the recently conducted Jinja East by election.
It is alleged that the ‘Mwiru supporters’ who served as polling officials illegally added ghost voters in the registration Database.
Section 29 of the Election Commission Act states that any person who by himself or herself or any other person procures the registration of himself or herself or any other person on a voters roll for a constituency, knowing that he or she or that other person is not entitled to be registered on that voters roll or is already registered on it or on another voters roll or by himself or herself or any other person procures the registration of a fictitious person, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding thirty currency points or to imprisonment not exceeding one year or to both.
Butalejja Resident District Commissioner, Richard Gulume Balyaino told this writer on Saturday last week that “our camp has been receiving evidence to confirm that Mwiru rigged.” Gulume, a resident of Jinja and who was in the Igeme campaign team said the party had obtained video footage, audios, still photos and confessions from some of the FDC stalwarts who executed the rigging, voter bribery, intimidation of voters and threatened violence.
In fact several election observers claimed that the election was marred by violence, intimidation, voter bribery and other electoral malpractices coupled with heavy.
The Igeme camp also accused the heavily deployed police of connivance with Mwiru to only look on as he broke the electoral laws.
In the aftermath, the Kiira Regional Police Commander, Gerald Twishime and the Jinja Central Divisional Police Commander, Martin Mbabazi were suspended and put under investigations.
But on knowledge that the ruling party has gone to court, the FDC camps says it is not at all scared. FDC vice president eastern region, Salaam Musumba said last evening: There we go again!
“They (NRM) learnt nothing and forgot nothing. If they had a good case like that, why did they first arrest innocent people? Ok we go to court,” one FDC supporter said.
Jinja Central Division LC III chairman, Kirunda Mubarak said NRM was simply again wasting their resources. In fact he described the petition as a fake dollar saying that they (FDC) had the trust and the will of the citizens of Jinja East.
Notwithstanding the FDC’s take, a journalist who covered the election and spoke on condition of anonymity said the NRM claims hold water. The journalist said he had witnessed incidents at Main Street primary school polling station, where opposition youths prevent those perceived to be NRM supporters from proceeding to vote.
“I have the footage my brother. And remember at one press conference Mwiru himself incited his supporter when he told them to kill anyone who would stand in their way,” says the reporter.
Should the NRM win the case in court, Mwiru and Igeme will go for the fifth contest.