The Court of Appeal has ordered for a retrial of a petition filed by Nazigo Sub county Councilor Ritah Nabadda challenging the victory of Idah Nantaba as the Kayunga District Woman Member of Parliament.

The order for a retrial has been made by a panel of three Court of Appeal Justices comprising of Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Stephen Musota and Christopher Gashirabake after setting aside the decision by the Mukono High Court.

The former State Minister for Information, Communication and Technology and National Guidance Nantaba stood on an Independent ticket and defeated six other candidates after garnering 47,725 votes in the January 14th 2021 Parliamentary elections.

Nantaba defeated Harriet Nakwedde of the National Unity Platform who garnered 37,117 votes, Jackline Birungi Kobusingye, an Independent Candidate who got 10,202 votes, Agatha Nalubwama of National Resistance Movement who garnered 9237 votes and Margaret Nabirye who came fifth with 3,648 votes. Others included; Brenda Nakaddu of Forum for Democratic Change who got 889 votes and Democratic Party candidate Lydia Wabuza who trailed with only 303 votes.

But Nabadda who did not participate in the race but was dissatisfied with the election results decided to petition the Mukono High Court accusing Nantaba of voter bribery.

As a result, on September 10th, 2021, Mukono High Court Lady Justice Olive Kazaarwe Mukwaya dismissed Nabadda’s petition on grounds of incompetence and lack of the supportive 500 signatures from registered voters in the district.

She ordered Nabadda to pay costs of the suit to Nantaba, whose lawyers had raised preliminary objection to the application citing lack of valid signatures.

Dissatisfied with the decision, Nabadda through her lawyers of Okalang Law Chambers appealed in the Court of Appeal in Kampala raising eight grounds.

Nabadda argued that the learned trial Judge erred in law and fact when she failed to find that the preliminary objection raised by Nantaba’s lawyers led by Ambrose Tebyasa required adducing evidence. As such, the Court of Appeal heard that it was premature for Justice Kazaarwe to dismiss the petition.

Nabadda further noted that the learned trial Judge erred in law when she determined matters of evidence by way of preliminary objection without subjecting the petition to a hearing thus occasioning a miscarriage of justice.

On their part, the respondents including Nantaba and the Electoral Commission asked the Court to dismiss the appeal on the basis that it was incompetent as held by the High Court.

However, in their decision made on Thursday, the Justices have agreed with Nabadda saying indeed the lower Court Judge erred when she found that her petition had not been supported by the requisite 500 signatures of registered voters when no evidence had been adduced to that effect.

According to the Court of Appeal Justices, it was also wrong for the High Court Judge to make a conclusion that only 70 out of the 559 persons supporting the petition had the opportunity of filing the form with their voter numbers when there was no evidence that had been adduced to that effect.

“From the above , we therefore find that the appeal has merit. Since this is an election petition ,court takes cognizance of the fact that it is of great importance. Courts should therefore be careful in awarding costs so as not to unjustifiably deter aggrieved parties from seeking redress from Court,” said the Justices.

Accordingly, they have ordered that each party should bear its own costs and ordered for a retrial.

Meanwhile, the same Justices have dismissed an appeal also challenging the victory of Nantaba by her rival Jackline Birungi Kobusingye.

Birungi’s appeal was premised on the grounds that Nantaba did not have the requisite academic qualifications to be a Member of Parliament which is the Advanced level of Education certificate or it’s Equivalent.

In Birungi’s case, the Justices led by Kiryabwire have ruled that Nantaba was academically qualified to be nominated as Kayunga District Woman Member of Parliament .

The Justices who made separate Judgements from cases whose facts are almost similar thus held that Birungi’s appeal has no merit and declared Nantaba as the duly elected Woman MP for Kayunga District.

This however doesn’t mean that Nantaba will not go back for a retrial in Nabadda’s case.

The decisions have been read by the Court of Appeal Registrar Lillian Buchyana in her Chambers.

Nantaba’s victory had earlier been challenged by three people including Harriet Nakwedde in Mukono High Court but she didn’t appeal after losing the bid to remove her from Parliament after one attempt.

Speaking to Journalists after the decision, Nantaba wondered why Court has ordered her to go for a retrial after finding that she has academic qualifications to be a legislator in one case.

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