Court Dismisses Election Petition Against Minister Elioda, Orders Petitioner To Pay Millions In Costs

Court Dismisses Election Petition Against Minister Elioda, Orders Petitioner To Pay Millions In Costs

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By Micheal  Butunga Atwakiire

Sheema:The High Court in Mbarara Thursday dismissed an election petition by FDC’s Virginia Plan Mugyenyi against Sheema municipality MP (NRM) Dr Elioda Tumwesigye who doubles as Science and Technology minister.

Virginia challenged Tumwesigye’s victory in July 2018 Sheema municipality by-election who alleged that the process was marred by voter bribery, voter intimidation and failure by the electoral commission to organise the election in a free and fair manner.

The judgment was read by Mbarara resident judge, Joyce Kavuma on behalf of Judge Andrew Bashaija.

Judge Bashaija ordered Ms Mugyenyi to pay the costs to Dr Tumwesigye and the electoral commission.

“Overall, the petitioner has failed to prove all the allegations she made against the first and second respondent respectively. The few instances of error, omissions and lapses in the conduct of the election as a whole by the second respondent (electoral Commission) could not affect the results of the election in a substantial manner. The petition failed in its entirety and it’s dismissed with costs to the first and second respondent respectively,” said judge Bashaija in his written judgment.

In his ruling, Judge Bashaija said Ms Mugyenyi, who petitioned court contesting Dr Elioda’s victory voted for herself at Migina Polling Station yet she was not a registered voter in Sheema Municipality.

As part of evidence during the hearing, Court was told by Mr Eric Sabiiti, the Electoral Commission lawyer that Ms Mugyenyi is a registered voter at Ruhimbo Polling Station, Kabingo Town Council, in Isingiro District.

Mr Sabiiti also produced video evidence that showed Ms Mugyenyi voting at Migina Polling Station.

In his ruling, however, Judge Bashaija said Ms Mugyenyi failed to produce substantial evidence pinning Dr Elioda or showing how the electoral body failed on its part to conduct a free and fair election.

Ms Mugyenyi lost the election to her closest rival Dr Tumwesigye who stood on the ticket of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).

She bagged 11,489 votes while Dr Tumwesigye garnered 13,590 votes.

Other contenders were Mr Beniamin Ruyombya (867 votes), Mr Meshach Katusiime (756 votes), Mr Raymond Kamugisha (276 votes), Mr Jonas Tumwine (185 votes) and Mr Ambrose Mwesigye Blackman (32 votes).

Meanwhile, the FDC iron lady has vowed to contest Thursday ruling. “I’m challenging this ruling in the court of appeal, we shall overcome someday,” she told her supporters outside court as soon the ruling was read.

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