Fred Nyanzi petitions High Court to overturn Muhammad Nsereko’s victory

Fred Nyanzi Ssentamu (L) wants the High Court to stop Muhammad Nsereko (R) from swearing in and declare him the legitimate winner of the polls

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Fred Nyanzi Ssentamu, the former National Unity Platform (NUP) candidate in the Kampala Central Parliamentary race has petitioned High Court seeking to overturn the victory of his rival and incumbent legislator Muhammad Nsereko.

The Electoral Commission (EC), Kampala Central Returning Officer and Nsereko are first, second and third respondents to the suit respectively.

Through his lawyers of Semuyaba, Iga and Company Advocates, Nyanzi states that the January 14, 2021 Kampala Central Parliamentary elections which attracted five candidates were not conducted in accordance with the electoral laws. He says the elections were not free and fair which affected the final results in a substantial manner.

According to Nyanzi, the polls were marred by several irregularities such as failure to count votes in accordance with electoral laws, understating his votes, failure by the presiding officers to submit results from seven polling stations, inconsistencies in counting and tallying of votes on the declaration of result forms among other concerns.

He says that the elections were carried out in a way that did not comply with the Parliamentary Elections Act leading to a substantial negative effect on the results. For instance, he argues that seven presiding officers committed electoral offenses when they failed to furnish the returning officer with the true declaration of result forms within the specified time, adding that they didn’t have any lawful excuse.

He accuses the presiding officers and the returning officer of deliberately making a wrong entry on the final tally sheet by posting wrong votes at some of the polling stations which affected the final results in the return form for transmission to the Electoral Commission.

According to Nyanzi, votes from various polling stations were excluded from the final tally sheet and that several credible voters at various polling stations were disenfranchised.

“That all these wrong postings and Mathematical and arithmetical mistakes arose as a result of vote stuffing orchestrated by Nsereko personally and /or with his knowledge, consent and approval,” reads the petition in part.

Evidence before the court shows that before and during and the said election, Nsereko allegedly committed illegal practices and electoral offences with intent to directly or indirectly influence the voters to vote for him by offering them money contrary to the laws and the Parliamentary Elections Act.

Nyanzi who lost with a margin of 1,023 votes says that there was a need to scrutinise the ballots to determine whether some of his votes were wrongly invalidated. To prove this, Nyanzi attaches evidence of 50 declaration result forms whose results were purportedly falsified.

“There was an overwhelming number of invalid votes because the counting went on past 6 pm till late at night and during this time, one is bound to make numerous errors due to poor visibility, invalidating valid votes and vice versa’, reads Nyanzi’s supportive affidavit.

He wants the High Court to stop Nsereko from swearing in and declare him the legitimate winner of the polls. In the alternative, Nyanzi wants the High Court to order a vote recount or elections under the supervision of another returning officer.

He also wants the court to reprimand the returning officer of Kampala Central and the presiding officers of various polling stations for committing various electoral offences.

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The petition is accompanied by a voluminous record of evidence from Nyanzi’s 13 polling agents. This isn’t the first time Nyanzi is trying to overturn Nsereko’s victory. On January 22, 2021, Nyanzi asked the Mengo Chief Magistrates Court to order for a vote recount.

However, the Mengo Chief Magistrate Esther Nansambu dismissed his application on grounds that Nyanzi was raising matters of electoral offences which would only be determined by the High court which has jurisdiction to entertain such.

The Civil Division High Court Registrar Jameson Karemani is yet to summon Nsereko to file his defense before the petition is heard.