- Updated at 0946 EAT on Tuesday 29 March 2022.
Joel Ssenyonyi (C) at court waiting for the judgement8The Court of Appeal has dismissed an election appeal challenging the victory of Nakawa West MP, Joel Ssenyonyi. The three-member panel of the Court of Appeal comprising justices; Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Stephen Musota and Christopher Gashirabake dismissed the appeal filed by businessman-cum politician, Mukesh Shukla on grounds that it was filed out of the stipulated 14 days within which to file election matters. Shukla contested for the Nakawa West parliamentary seat in the January 14th, 2021 polls and lost to Ssenyonyi. Ssenyonyi polled 30,847 votes while Mukesh came sixth with 806 votes. Despite the dismal performance, he ran to the High court alleging that Ssenyonyi together with the Electoral Commission committed a number of electoral offences and irregularities including ballot stuffing and failure to sign the declaration of result forms among others.
Mukesh accused Ssenyonyi of ballot stuffing at 8 out of the 153 polling stations and changing results at one of the polling stations where he got 81 instead of 58 votes. However, High court judge Isaac Muwata dismissed the case on October 14, 2021, with costs for lack of sufficient evidence. Muwata reasoned that even if Mukesh had proved any of the grounds, which he didn’t, such irregularities wouldn’t have affected the elections in a substantial manner.
According to Muwata, even if Mukesh had won at all the eight contested polling stations, he would still not change his fortunes from being the 6th to become the winner. Dissatisfied with the judgement, Mukesh through his lawyers led by Badru Bwango filed a notice of appeal on October 14, 2021, in the Court of Appeal. He submitted the entire record of appeal on March 24, 2022.
In his appeal, Mukesh argued that the High court justice erred in law and fact when he chose to dismiss the petition. Mukesh also faulted the trial judge for failure to evaluate the evidence adduced on-court record showing that there was falsification of results, which affected the final outcome of the results.
When the matter came up for hearing today Monday, the justices led by Kiryabwire noted that despite the fact Mukesh’s petition was dismissed by the High court in October 2021 he submitted the record of appeal last week that was not even signed.
They also noted that Mukesh filed an application seeking to extend the time within which to file his appeal but he neither served Ssenyonyi nor his lawyers. As if this was not enough, the justices noted that neither Mukesh’s lawyers nor the applicant signed the appeal and affidavit respectively.
Furthermore, the court heard that the application for an extension of time was filed in the court registry at around 10.30 am after the scheduled hearing. According to the justices, if court had actually started on time, Mukesh would not have found the court session. The justices also noted that the documents were not stamped as proof that Mukesh had paid court fees.
The justices noted that all the documents were defective since they were neither signed nor dated and there was no proof of payment. They thus dismissed the application first seeking for extension of time, saying there was no appeal.
They struck it out from the court records with orders that Mukesh pays half of the costs to Ssenyonyi and the Electoral Commission as first and second respondents respectively to the matter. Ssenyonyi and his lawyers Denis Atwikujire, Derrick Ruzima and Abubaker Kayondo who represented the Electoral Commission welcomed the decision, saying they are now going to start demanding their costs.”Of course castigated the negligence, the abuse of its time and of course our time exhibited by Mr Shumuk and his team. We are therefore going to embark on a process of vigorously seeking compensation for the time that we have spent. We saw that his lawyers wanted to appeal to the Supreme court which is outside the law but we shall go ahead to seek and recover to account for all the time we have spent on defending the useless accusation,” said Ruzima. Mukesh’s lawyer Bwango after the dismissal informed court that he wanted to appeal against their decision but they laughed him off and asked him whether he wants to appeal their decision. All appeals arising from both the parliamentary and Local Council elections stop at the Court of Appeal, whose decision is final.