31 May 2017

Uganda: Court Annuls Election of Amin's Grandson

Photo: The Observer
Taban Idi Amin with President Museveni during the campaigns last year.

Halfway through Court of Appeal registrar Deo Nizeyimana's judgment, Sam Otada Amooti, sensing victory, winked at one of his many supporters crammed into the chambers.

Once a little tense, Otada began to relax after realizing he was headed for a court victory. It was clear that the judgment was going in his favour.

After he lost his petition in the High court in Masindi, Otada lodged an appeal challenging the election of Taban Idi Amin, the grandson of former President Idi Amin Dada and MP for Kibanda North constituency.

Otada, who lost the 2016 parliamentary election by 16,118 votes, argued at the High court in Masindi that Amin was not a registered voter in the constituency and, therefore, he couldn't stand as a candidate.

Justice Elizabeth Nahamya, who has since retired, dismissed the petition at the High court. But in his appeal through his lawyer, Asuman Nyonyintono, Otada insisted that the voters' register in Kibanda North doesn't have a voter in the names of "Taban Idi Amin" instead it has an individual called "Idi Taban Amin Tampo."

Otada also argued that the academic documents that Amin, who stood on the NRM ticket, tendered to the Electoral Commission (EC) for his nomination bear the names Taban Idi Amin. He argued that Taban Idi Amin and Idi Taban Amin Tampo couldn't be one and the same person.

To compound matters, Otada argued that if Amin ever changed his names or changed the arrangement of his names, he never published a deed poll or declared the changes in the national gazette in accordance with section 30 of the Registration of Persons Act.

Amin, on his apart, through his lawyer Caleb Alaka, asked the justices led by Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma, Cheborion Barishaki and Paul Mugamba to dismiss the petition on grounds that the tweak in his name was a mere technicality, which cannot cause the annulment of his election.

Amin explained that though his actual name is Taban Idi Amin, he adopted Idi Taban Amin Tampo to draw a distinction between him and his father who also goes by Taban Idi Amin. The three justices didn't buy his argument. They accused Amin of trying to dupe voters by changing his names for political expediency.

"We find the first respondent has not given any satisfactory explanation as to the discrepancy in the name Idi Taban Amin Tampo as indicated in the national voters register and national ID, Taban Idi Amin on the nomination form and academic documents and Idi Taban Amin as indicated on his passport," the judges ruled.

"All the academic documents presented to the second respondent [EC] at nomination carry the name Taban Idi Amin, who is not a registered voter as defined in section 1 of the Parliamentary Election Act," they added.

The judges also dismissed the EC's argument that they nominated Amin as Taban Idi Amin in order to match the name Taban Idi Amin, which appears on the academic documents.

To Otada's delight, the judges ordered the EC to organize a by-election for Kibanda North on grounds that Amin who has been the MP is not a registered voter in the constituency.

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