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Court of Appeal Orders Fresh Elections in Sere Sub County

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Owori also accused Okongo and the Electoral Commission officials of conniving to alter the declaration of result forms showing that he obtained 06 votes instead of 60 votes, which led to his defeat with a margin of 23 votes. The high court dismissed the application on the grounds that Owori had failed to adduce sufficient evidence to support his claims.
19 May 2022 15:26
Irene Nyafono the lawyer Representing Bonny Christestom Owori at the Court of Appeal.

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The Court of Appeal in Kampala has set aside the victory of Michael Okongo as Sere Subcounty LC III chairperson in Tororo District and ordered by-elections. A panel of three Court of Appeal justices comprising Elizabeth Musoke, Muzamiru Mutangula Kibeedi, and Monica Mugenyi delivered the verdict Thursday morning.

In their judgment, the panel noted that the elections didn't comply with the relevant electoral laws. They ordered the Electoral Commission and Okongo who jointly lost the case to Bonny Christestom Owori to pay him the costs of the suit. The decision arises from a successful appeal by Owori against Okongo together with the Electoral Commission. 

Following the 2021 Local Government Elections, the Electoral Commission declared Okongo as the winner of Sere Subcounty LC 3 elections with 799 votes compared to 776 votes garnered by Owori. Dissatisfied with the results, Owori petitioned the High Court to overturn Okongo's victory, saying that the election was marred by non-compliance with the provisions of the Local Government Act, which the final outcome in a substantial manner.

Owori told Court that all the issues related to non-compliance with electoral laws occurred at Sere Primary School Polling Station Code 01 where for instance ineligible voters were allowed to vote. He also said there were cases of multiple voting by Okongo's supporters who forcefully caused nonvoters to vote in his favor. 

Owori also noted that the signatures of his agents were forged when they declined to acknowledge the results in protest against the irregularities. He also accused the Presiding officers at the same Polling Station of pre-ticking the ballots in favor of his opponent.

Owori also accused Okongo and the Electoral Commission officials of conniving to alter the declaration of result forms showing that he obtained 06 votes instead of 60 votes, which led to his defeat with a margin of 23 votes. The high court dismissed the application on the grounds that Owori had failed to adduce sufficient evidence to support his claims. 

Court also indicated that the evidence by the applicant's witnesses was exaggerated and full of inconsistencies. However, Owori through his lawyers of Ekirapa and Company Advocates appealed against the decision on grounds that the High Court Judge erred in law and fact when he failed to evaluate the evidence before him and ended up making a wrong conclusion. Owori asked Court to quash the decision by the High Court and order for a bye-election in Sere Subcounty.

On their part, the Electoral Commission which was represented by lawyer Jude Mwasa asked the Court to dismiss Owori's appeal on the basis that the High Court was right when it found that the evidence by his witnesses was exaggerated, trivial, unsubstantiated, and full of consistencies. 

Mwasa added that Owori ought to have asked for a vote recount, which he did not do. However, in their judgment, the court of appeal judges noted that Owori adduced sufficient evidence to prove that the electoral process at Sere Primary School Polling Station was marred by non-compliance with the law.

They noted that once the Court finds that there was noncompliance with electoral laws at one polling station, the principle is that such non-compliance affected the results in the entire Constituency in a substantial manner.

"The Court's only option is to order fresh elections for the entire electoral area and it has no power to order elections at only the affected polling stations. In the present case, we find that there were incidents of noncompliance with the relevant laws at only Sere Primary School polling station and that the said non-compliance affected the results for LC 3 Chairperson Sere Subcounty in a substantial manner," ruled the Justices. 

Adding that, "accordingly, the results for the constituency that formed the basis for declaring the first respondent/Okongo as LC3 Chairperson of Sere Subcounty in Tororo District are hereby set aside". Owori's lawyer Irene Nyafono welcomed the decision in an interview with URN, saying that she is happy that the Court has seen the truth and delivered justice to his client.

//Cue in: "We are excited...

Cue out: .. come out victorious".//

Luganda Audio.

//Cue in: "Ensalawo ya koti...

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The same panel also dismissed an appeal filed by George Willy Lubega challenging the victory of Josephat Tumwesigye as Bugangaizi South Constituency member of parliament in Kakumiro District. They noted that the applicant failed to take the necessary steps required in election matters like filing an application seeking to extend the time within which to file his appeal, after realizing that he filed it out of the stipulated time frame.

The court ordered each party to bear its own costs of the suit since Lubega lost with  a slim margin of 470 votes

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