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Court Upholds Elections of Juliet Achayo Lodou in Ngora County

The court found that there were four different results for the two candidates leading to the confusion. Achayo was first declared winner of the Ngora County elections with 9,517 votes. Abala who had garnered 9,226 votes was instead declared winner by the Electoral Commission in Kampala.
Achayo and her supporters leave court after the ruling.

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The High Court in Soroti has upheld the election of Juliet Achayo Lodou as Ngora county MP.

Lady Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga in a ruling delivered on Tuesday  said Achayo won the election with 11,556 against the petitioner, David Abala. According the the judge, Abala garnered 11,085 votes.

The court, sitting in Soroti gave Achayo additional 2,049 votes to secure her victory.  On declaring results after after the poll count, the returning officer, Peter Toddu had declared David Abala winner with 8317 votes against Achayo's 7828 votes.

Achayo applied for a vote recount at Soroti Chief Magistrate's but magistrate Monica Amono dismissed the application with costs on ground that the applicant did not adduce sufficient evidence.

While the Magistrate  identified a number of irregularities, she declined to order for vote recount saying her court did not have the jurisdiction.

Achayo was forced to seek redress from the electoral commission Headquarters  in Kampala where she was declared a winner with 9517 votes.  Her names was subsequently gazetted to allow her to take oath as a member of of the 11th Parliament. The EC gave Abala 9226 votes but he was not satisfied with the outcome.

He then filed an Electoral petition challenging the election of Achayo who had previouly defeated him during the NRM'S party primaries. 

In hearing the petition, the he judge found  that the results used for declaring Abala were partial. The court also heard that the returning officer, Toddu declared partial results due to network problem in uploading results.

“The petitioner must produce proof that the effect of non- compliance with the law on the result was substantial. Even if there were irregularities, the petitioner is expected to demonstrate the effect they had in the results to the satisfaction of the court” reads part of  the judgement.

Justice Okuo said she found that the declaration of the results by the Electoral Commission contravened provisions of the law and that the tallying of the results was incorrect.

The Judge also said that voters from eleven polling stations were disenfranchised because their votes were not taken into consideration during the tallying.

The said polling stations include Kodike PAG Church, Kodike Primary School, Nyamongo Mango tree, Kalengo Primary School, Opot Primary School, Aagu Primary School, Agolitom Primary School, Kees Catholic Church, Acoroit Mango Tree and Odwarat Primary School, among others.

 But she hastened to add that although the failures of the EC affected the results, court was faced with the mandate to set aside the declarations with justifiable costs or uphold the result of the election as true reflection of the voters’ will. The judge based her ruling on the declaration forms tendered by EC after trashing the tally sheets and return form for the transmission of results presented by EC.

“There is no evidence from the petitioner that his declaration was based on the 65 Polling Stations neither did EC produce evidence that the first declaration was based on the partial results from the 54 Polling Stations. Court was, therefore, unable to determine votes in the remaining eleven Polling Stations”, the Judge continues.

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In her ruling, Justice Okuo said that there were major contradictions in results of the Ngora County election based on the affidavits of the returning officer, Toddu. 

In the vote tally sheet, Toddu said that Abala polled 8,317 while Achayo polled 7,828 yet in the supplementary affidavit, he indicated that Abala got 8,303 votes against  Achayo with 7,513 votes. The same officer  in the same affidavit, gave Abala 8,865 votes and Achayo 9,108 while EC Kampala declared Achayo with 9,517 votes against 9,286 votes for Abala.

The judge noted that besides glaring contradictions in figures, there are multiple returns issued by EC contrary to the law.

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During the ruling in an application for vote recount by Achayo in January, Soroti Chief Magistrate, Monica Amono highlighted that there were irregularities in the election processes and tallying of results, but declined to order for a vote recount.

These included unsigned declaration forms at some polling stations and varying results at polling stations like Kopege CoU, Kees Catholic Church, Pasam Mango tree, Opero Catholic Church and Omaditok, among others. But the evidence in the said irregularities was struck off in the 25 affidavits filed by Abala during the preliminary objections in the case. The matter was then determined with just an affidavit, also the petitioner’s affidavit.

Justice Okuo, ordered each party to meet their own costs.