Court disagrees with Nabakooba over declaration forms in petition against NUP’s Bagala

Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba

By URN

The High Court in Mubende has allowed the Electoral Commission to present Declaration Result – DR forms in an election petition between the Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba and her rival, Joyce Bagala.

Nabakooba, through her lawyers of Okello Oryem, had objected to EC’s request reasoning that there was no motive adduced to court.

However, Justice Emmanuel Baguma ruled that for the court to reach a just and fair decision, the Electoral Commission – EC is allowed to present the DR forms to correct the error that could have arisen at the compilation of the documents. 

Nabakooba, a candidate of the ruling National Resistance Movement- NRM is seeking to overturn the election of Bagala of the opposition National Unity Platform, for the Mityana District Woman seat in Parliament.

Bagala is jointly sued with EC that is accused of failure and neglect to ensure secure conditions necessary for the conduct of the election when registered voters were variously threatened and failed to exercise their right to vote freely or at all.

Nabakooba alleges that EC’s presiding officers connived with Bagala and her agents to execute a well-organized scheme, procure prohibited persons to vote, facilitate impersonation of voters, multiple voting by unauthorized persons, voting by unregistered persons.

Other accusations by Nabakooba include intimidation of her agents, invalidation of valid votes cast for her, obstruction of voters and giving voters pre-ticked ballot papers indicating Bagala as the voted candidate.

At the pre-hearing last week, EC asked the court for permission to be allowed to attach Declaration Result forms which were not attached at the time of filing its defence.

But Justice Baguma overruled the objection reasoning that the DR forms mentioned are not new evidence because 13 witnesses referred to them in their sworn statements.

“It is not in dispute that the said DR forms were availed to all parties on January 15 2021. This, therefore, is enough notice that he is aware of the DR forms although they were not attached but mentioned,” held the judge adding that court is permitted to exercise a certain amount of flexibility to balance the interests of the parties to achieve fairness and justice.

According to Justice Baguma, it can be a human error during compilation that the mentioned documents were not attached due to the volume of work of EC. “It is, therefore, my considered view and opinion that allowing the DR forms at this stage will not prejudice the petitioner- Nabakooba in any way. In any case, when the petitioner was served with the answer to the petition, it is indicated that they have attached the said DR forms so it is not a surprise or an ambush to the petitioner,” the judge ruled.

Court has set August 27 for hearing of the petition with cross-examination of the witnesses.

Bagala who won the January 14 polls with a margin of 16,000 votes states that the alleged irregularities are creations of imagination imperfectly cooked by Nabakooba to upset the will of the people of Mityana District.

She contends that the petition is incompetent for it does not disclose a case recognized by law and hence it should be struck out with costs.

Through her lawyers, Bagala contends that her rival has no legal grievance but simply nursing wounds of defeat because she was defeated notwithstanding her abuse of ministerial office and connections. 

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