MUKONO – The High Court in Mukono on Friday rejected Ritah Nabadda’s documents presented to pin Kayunga Woman MP – Idah Nantaba on accusations of bribery during the 2021 general election.
Nantaba – an independent candidate garnered 47,725 votes to defeat six other contestants including, Jackline Birungi Kobusingye, Margaret Nabirye, Brenda Nakaddu, Harriet Nakwedde, Agatha Nalubwama and Lydia Wabuza for the district woman seat. Her closest challenger, Nakwedde walked away with 37,117 votes.
But Nabadda –a concerned citizen, was dissatisfied with the election results, petitioning Mukono High Court challenging Nantaba’s win. She alleged that voter bribery marred the exercise. She asserted that Nantaba was involved in the distribution of food and other material items in the run-up to the election.
As a way of justifying her claims, Nabadda presented before court, copies of letters from the office of the Chief Administrative Officer, the district – National Resistance Movement chairperson and the Galiraya LCIII chairperson, confirming that the government had not dispatched any consignment in form of food relief to the people of the areas, which Nantaba alluded to have delivered during the campaign period.
However, Nantaba’s Lawyer, Ambrose Tebyasa raised an objection against the public documents supporting the petitioner’s affidavits, saying they did not have a single indicator that they were addressed to the petitioner.
Tebyasa informed the court presided over by Justice Collins Accellam that the petitioner was not the competent witness to present such documents before the court.
The petitioner’s lawyers, Gregory Byamukama and Kevin Amujong contended that the documents qualified as exhibits since public officers had issued the same, confirming that the district did not receive any food consignment from the government during that period.
But Justice Accellam ruled that such documents could only be allowed as an identification, but not exhibits since the petitioner lacked any connection to them because they were not addressed to her, and she never participated in their authorship.
Tebyasa challenged the petitioner to admit that there were other letters attached to the respondent’s affidavits from the Permanent Secretary in the office of the Prime Minister, Rose Nakabugo and another from the Kayunga Chief Administrative Officer, Roseline Adongo confirming the dispatch and receipt of food consignments. Nabadda acknowledged that the information was contradictory.
During the questioning, Nabadda also admitted that she was a campaigning agent of Birungi, who confirmed to the same court during another election petition that she is a daughter to the District NRM Chairperson, Moses Kariisa Karangwa – a known rival to Nantaba, but denied that Karangwa had sponsored her to file the petition.
Outside the court, Nabadda said that despite rejecting the public documents, there is still more evidence on file to challenge Nantaba’s victory.
Her Lawyer, Amujong also noted that they still had additional credible evidence to present before court to determine the matter.
Nantaba said after the session that from the cross-examination, she had realised that her challenger was only wasting her time and resources due to a political agenda.
Justice Accellam adjourned the matter to December 12, where more witnesses, including the former Bbaale County MP, George Wilson Nsamba Kumama will be examined.
In June this year, a panel of three Court of Appeal Justices comprising, Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Stephen Musota and Christopher Gashirabake ordered for a fresh hearing of the same matter after setting aside a ruling by the Mukono High Court Judge, Olive Kazaarwe Mukwaya, who had dismissed the case on grounds of incompetence and lack of the supportive 500 signatures from registered voters in the district.
Additional reporting by URN