Bernard Odoi Oneni’s election as Eastern Youth MP hangs in a balance following a petition before the High Court in Mbale shows that the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) politician was not qualified to stand for the position.
Sumaya Aliza Balunywa, who came second in the race has petitioned the High court challenging Odoi’s election because the exercise was not conducted in compliance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Elections Act, specifically Section 8(d) and Regulation 2 of the Parliamentary Elections (Special interest groups) Amendment regulations No.6 of 2011.
Balunywa contends that Odoi is above the 30 years upper age cap for youth leaders. Her suit also has the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) as respondents.
She claims that Odoi and NIRA colluded to alter his birth registration details in the NIRA register to show that he was born on August 28, 1991, thereby creating an impression that he was eligible to run as Youth Member of Parliament as opposed to his actual date of birth which is August 28, 1982.
Balunywa’s lead lawyer, Robert Bauti, says that they conducted research from Odoi’s former schools and found that he was born in 1982, which puts him at 39 years of age. He says that Odoi lied to the court and EC which is why they want the court to annul his victory and declare Balunywa as the winner of the Eastern Youth MP race.
Odoi garnered 967 votes beating Balunywa who scored 448 votes.
Before the elections, the EC had canceled Odoi’s nomination that he was ineligible to run for the youth parliamentary race because he was above 30 years of age. However, Justice Emmanuel Baguma of the civil division of the High Court in Kampala reinstated Odoi’s candidature a day to the race.
This was after Odoi petitioned the court arguing the EC had unfairly disqualified him since he had submitted to the electoral body his national ID which shows that he was born on August 28, 1991 which was evidence enough to prove that he was a youth and upon satisfaction, the EC duly nominated him.