New Vision (Kampala)

10 April 2012

Uganda: MP Singh Lawyer Back As Court Delivers Verdict

City lawyer, Dr. James Akampumuza, who abandoned the election petition against Rubaga North MP, Singh Katongole Marwaha in the High is back on the case at the Appeal level.

The Supreme court is set to deliver verdict later in the afternoon.

Akampumuza, who first represented Singh in the High Court with his colleague Simon Tendo Kabenge, suddenly wrote to the High Court on August 16, 2011, saying they had withdrawn from the case.

They did not give reasons for their withdrawal which slatted the case until Sing engaged new lawyers, David Bwambale and Denis Musede.

When the appeal opened Tuesday, the Court rejected Akampumuza's request for an adjournment to another day to fight off Moses Kasibante's application for Court to strike out Singh's appeal.

Akampumuza had said that he needed to attend a scheduled matter in the High Court in the afternoon, but the Justices of appeal told him to send someone to the High Court to ask for an adjournment there. The Court ruled that the Matter before it takes precedence.

Kasibante's lawyer, Chrysostom Katumba had applied to the Court to strike out Sing's appeal saying that the respondent's had flouted all the rules of appeal. Katumba argued that Sing and the Electoral Commission filed the notice of appeal outside the seven days and the memorandum of appeal outside the seven days within filing of the notice.

He also complained that neither Singh nor the electoral Commission have ever filed the record of appeal whereas the law requires them to do.

The two, he said were supposed to file the record of appeal within 30 days of filing a memorandum of appeal. He said that the record was ready in the High Court on December 13, 2011, some three weeks after the High Court ruled against Singh.

The High Court ordered Singh to vacate the Parliamentary seat for Moses Kasibante who it ruled was the duly elected MP for Rubaga North. The court ruled that the purported vote recount which reversed Kasibante's victory was done illegally under suspicious circumstances.

Kasibante was declared winner of the Rubaga North poll on February 20, 2012 by the Electoral Commission with 24,054, against Katongole's 18,595 votes. Seven other candidates took part in the race.

However, after the disputed recount ordered by then Mengo Chief Magistrate Phillip Odochi, the result was reversed giving Singh victory with 24,802 votes, and Kasibante second with 22,850 votes. Following this, Kasibante successfully petitioned the High Court to declare the recount and its results illegal.

The Electoral Commission's lawyer, Tom Magezi, asked the Court to allow them chance to file the record of proceedings saying they filed to do it on time because they had not been notified it was ready.

Magezi said that the Electoral Commission filed a notice of appeal within the mandatory seven days. He said that the EC lodged its notice on October 31, 2011, which is the seventh day of the ruling. He reasoned that the seven days commence the day after the High Court Judgment not the day of Judgment. He however, conceded that the memorandum was filed a day late which he said does not jeopardise the case.

He also conceded having never filed the record of proceedings, but said that rule 81 of the Court of Appeal enjoins the party who appealed to notify the respondents that the record is ready which the appellant did not do. He said that as a result the Electoral Commission was not aware that the record of proceedings of the High Court was ready.

But Kasibante's lawyer said the one day delay that Magezi referred to was serious because he never took the essential steps to remedy it and that there was no excuse he has given as to why they never took any steps after finding out that the records were ready.

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