Bobi Wine’s lawyers desperately hunt for Museveni to serve him petition

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Lawyers representing the National Unity Platform [NUP] presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine, the runner-up in the January 14 presidential elections, have spent the whole day looking to serve President Yoweri Museveni in vain.  

The lawyers led by Anthony Wameli, the head of NUP legal department looked for Mr Museveni to serve him personally with a copy of the presidential election petition, filed against him by Kyagulanyi on Monday seeking to nullify his electoral victory.  

Kyagulanyi challenged the results arising from the January 14th polls which were announced officially on January 16 by the Electoral Commission [EC] chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama.

Mr Museveni was declared the winner with 5,851,037 votes representing 58.64 per cent against Kyagulanyi’s 3,475,298 votes representing 34.85 per cent as provisional results, which was on January 28 finally updated to 6,042,898 votes for Museveni representing 58.38 per cent and 3,631,437 votes for Kyagulanyi representing 35 per cent of the total valid votes cast.

But Kyagulanyi disputed the results, hence petitioning the Supreme court seeking to nullify Museveni’s victory. Kyagulanyi argued that the election process was not free and fair as it was characterized by a number of irregularities like fraud, voter bribery, intimidation, violence that resulted into loss of lives, arrests among others. 

However, the copy of the said petition was supposed to be served to Museveni to enable him, being jointly sued with the Electoral Commission [EC] and the Attorney General, to look at the allegations raised against him and put in a defense before the case can be fixed for hearing.  

The laws regarding presidential election petitions state that the petitioner has to serve the respondents within two days after filing such that they can also reply within three days after being served. 

But with only one day left to meet the deadline, Kyagulanyi’s lawyers have said that they have looked for Museveni in three places since morning but failed to find and serve him.

“I know you have information about where the president is, please help me I need to serve him,” said Wameli immediately on receiving this reporter’s phone call. 

According to Wameli, him together with Geoffrey Turyamusiima and their secretary Linda Nanfuma first went to Museveni’s NRM offices at Plot 14 Kyandondo and he wasn’t there.

Wameli says they were then directed to the NRM party legal offices at Plot 13 and no one was there except the security guard. He adds that they later went to the Nakasero State Lodge and they were reportedly told that Museveni has not been there for some good months.

“First of all we looked for him and can’t find him. We went to his party offices Plot 14 he wasn’t there, they directed us to the legal department Plot 13, no one was there apart from the security guard, a police officer.

We went to the president’s office, they said he has not stepped there for very many months. We’re still looking for him and I don’t whether we have to go to Entebbe but generally we might fail to find him and serve him through newspapers,” said Wameli. 

The lawyers who noted that they had been frustrated at the moment they are considering to go to Entebbe tomorrow to look for him since the law states that they have to serve the respondents before 5 pm.

Mr Museveni has a home in Rwakitura, a farm in Gomba and several state lodges in different parts of the country, including one in Moroto. If Kyagulanyi’s lawyers don’t find him in Entebbe, it means that they will have to go to all these places before 5.00 pm this Wednesday.

The head of communications at NRM Emmanuel Dombo says that Museveni is in the country and they have not received any information of him going abroad.

He added that the lawyers should look for him from his known official address in Entebbe and if they fail, they seek other alternative ways of serving him as prescribed under the law.  

The law provides that if someone is sued in their individual capacity they are supposed to be served with the documents personally and you cannot give them to someone else to pass them onto the person sued.

If one fails to serve them personally, one goes back to the court where the case is filed and file an application with supportive affidavits seeking for substituted service.

It is through this order that one can proceed and serve that person through newspapers. The rest of the respondents (Electoral Commission and Attorney General) jointly sued with Museveni were served through court process servers but they were also at the court when the petition was being filed.

In 2016, when lawyers who represented candidate Amama Mbabazi in his presidential election petition were looking for Museveni, they went to the head of legal department in NRM, Oscar Kihika who then connected them to him.  

Museveni who was elected for the sixth elected term of office is not opposed to petitions. In 1980 before going to the bush for five years, after losing to Democratic Party [DP] candidate’s Sam Kahamba Kutesa in the Mbarara North parliamentary elections, Museveni filed petitioned the High Court seeking to have the election overturned.