Constitutional Court Insists on Hearing 8-Year-old Election Petition

Andrew Drito

Former Madi-Okollo MP, Andrew Drito

The Constitutional Court has rejected a request by Kenneth Adrapi to withdraw an election petition he filed against the former Madi -Okollo MP, Martin Andrew Drito about eight years ago.    

The five member panel of Constitutional Court Judges declined to grant the request made by Adrapi through his lawyers led by Antonia Natukunda on Monday to withdraw the petition on grounds that it had been overtaken by events. The Justices are Kenneth Kakuru, Hellen Obura, Christopher Madrama, Remmy Kasule and Stephen Musota.  

Natukunda, who was holding a brief for Joseph Kyazze, told the Judges that she had been instructed to withdraw the petition because their law firm had lost touch with their client and the fact that Drito was no longer a legislator. 
However, the judges objected to the request, saying the petition raises serious questions for constitutional interpretation despite the fact that it was filed against an individual.

Adrapi, who filed the petition in 2013 against the Electoral Commission and Attorney General, wanted court to dismiss Drito from Parliament for lack of the mandatory academic qualifications prior to his nomination ahead of the 2011 elections.  
He argued that there was a possibility that Drito had forged academic papers since there were discrepancies in the way the names were arranged in his documents. 

He also argued that Drito who was born in 1965 indicated that he was able to have studied Primary, Secondary and Advanced level by the end of 1973. 
Adrapi used the documents Drito submitted to the Electoral Commission for his nominations to back his case.  He explained that he went on to verify Drito’s documents with the National Council for Higher Education and found that the certificate that was issued to him as the minimum requirement for one to stand as an MP was issued in error.         

Documents before court indicate that on September 5, 2012 the then Executive Director the National Council for Higher Education, Prof A.B.K Kasozi, wrote saying that the certificate that was meant to approve the academic qualifications of Drito had been issued in error.  

Kasozi said since Drito possessed an East African Advanced level certificate obtained in Uganda, under the Parliamentary Elections Act, he was not required to get a certificate of formal Education of advanced level standard or its equivalent.    

As such, Adrapi asked court to declare that Drito does not possess the minimum academic qualifications to continue serving as a legislator since the certificate he used for nomination had been withdrawn. He also asked court to dismiss legislators who had made it to Parliament but along the way, they were discovered to lack the minimum academic requirements.  

He argued that the Parliamentary Elections Act has gaps since it doesn’t provide for the procedure of causing the disqualification of an elected MP where circumstances occur after elections and long after the period of filing elections petitions has lapsed. It’s against this background that the Judges declined to allow the petitioner to withdraw the matter.  

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