On Monday Afternoon the Country’s appellant Court ruled and secured the Serere County Mp Bishop Patrick Okabe’s seat.
Last Year, check the Soroti High Court headed by Justice Billy Kainamura had nullified the election of Bishop Okabe’s on various grounds including noncompliance with the electoral laws.
He High Court considered evidence by Joseph Linos Opio that though duly nominated, his name, photograph, and symbol did not feature on the ballot paper.
Opio, who lost to Okabe in the February 2016 elections, contended that the Electoral Commission and the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), defied the law to approve the nomination of Mr Okabe.
During the hearing of the petition at the Soroti high court, Mr. Opio argued that Mr Okabe did not possess the requisite academic qualifications for a Member of Parliament and also accused Electoral Commission for omitting his names in the ballot paper.
He said, the EC denied his supporters the right to vote due to deliberate omission of his photo, name and party symbol on the ballot paper.
The judge then declared the Serere County MP seat vacant and made orders for fresh elections. But Okabe, feeling unsatisfied with the ruling, ran to Court of Appeal which today ruled in his favour.
In a ruling of three judges headed by Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma, the panel quashed Justice Billy Kainamura’s earlier ruling noting that method Mr. Opio used for nomination wasn’t according to the laws elections.
The judges noted that, Mr. Opio was nominated in Kampala which is not the Electoral place in Serere and that he was nominated by then EC chairperson Eng. Badru Kiggundu not a full EC commission of five commissioners.
The judge’s also quashed Mr. Opio’s other argument of Okabe not having academic papers saying Mr. Opio had no right to petition the nomination of Mr. Okabe but didn’t rule whether the Serere County Mp Okabe has wanting academic qualifications.
Opio Speaks Out
In response to the outcome of the Court of Appeal, Joseph Opio said, “We fought a fight but at the end of the day we still lost. The decision has shocked even Electoral Commission lawyers. Congratulations to Okabe and his legal team.”
He added that the blame shouldn’t be pushed unto him but be taken as an indictment to EC because he followed the law and got nominated in November 2016.
Meanwhile the Serere County Mp Bishop Okabe expressed delight with the court ruling, and promised to carry on with development programs for his constituency.