Erias Kisawuzi, the spokesman of the judiciary has denied claims that John Agaba, Nebbi chief magistrate was suspended for ordering a recount of the LC V chairperson’s election results.
On Monday, Daily Monitor reported that Agaba was suspended by the chief Justice Benjamin Odoki over the vote recount that overturned the win of former LC5 chairman, Esrom William Alenyo. The Electoral Commission had declared Alenyo winner by 82 votes.
But the results of the recount, ordered by the Nebbi Chief Magistrate's Court and upheld by Arua High Court, instead showed that National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate, Robert Okumu, won by a narrow margin of 297 votes.
Agaba conducted the recount after the High Court in Arua dismissed a suit filed by Alenyo and his lawyers to stop the recount. While declaring Okumu the winner, the Chief Magistrate also ordered the Electoral Commission to gazette Okumu as the rightful winner of the Nebbi LC5 elections.
Kisawuzi explains that after the recount, Agaba requested for a mandatory 21-day leave which was granted and he went to his village in Ankole. He says a supporter of George Okumu, a supporter of Alenyo, complained to the Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki claiming irregularities in the vote recount exercise.
He explains that Odoki wrote back promising an investigation into the matter before a final position is taken. Kisawuzi says it was therefore shocking to see the story claiming that Agaba has been suspended over a recount that was lawfully ordered by the Arua High Court.
The judiciary spokesman says the story is not only baseless but was ill-intentioned to derail an otherwise smooth judicial process. John Agaba himself told Uganda Radio Network that he was surprised to read that he has been suspended.
He defended his decision to order for a recount saying it was a legal procedure.
The story seemed to have been timed to coincide with the beginning of hearing of a new case filed by Alenyo in the Arua High Court challenging the outcome of the recount that handed victory to Okumu.
While meeting both parties in the case in his chambers today, Arua High Court judge, Paul Nyanzi, expressed surprise at an interim Court order allegedly secured by Alenyo stopping Electoral Commission from gazetting of Okumu as the duly elected Nebbi LC V chairman.
Judge Nyanzi explained that he rejected the application and was surprised that Alenyo’s lawyers went up to the Bushenyi Chief Magistrate’s Court to secure an injunction against the gazetting Okumu.
Alenyo, who filed the case, was conspicuously absent from the proceedings as he was reportedly indisposed due to poor health. He is represented by Albert Kyeyune. Robert Okumu was represented by Paul Manzi of Manzi, Odama and Company Advocates. The judge set April 18th as the date for ruling on the case.