East Africa

Lawyer Mabirizi petitions courts, wants presidential nominations nullified

Controversial city lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi has petitioned the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) objecting it to nullify the recently concluded nomination of presidential candidates purporting that it was flawed.

The list of nominated candidates for the presidential race include incumbent President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, 24-year-old John Katumba, and Nancy Linda Kalembe, the only female candidate.

Others are former security minister Henry Tumukunde, former army commander Mugisha Muntu, Democratic Party president general Norbert Mao, former journalist Joseph Kabuleta, Forum for Democratic Change president Patrick Amuriat Oboi, National Unity Platform leader Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, Fred Mwesigye, and Willy Mayambala.

Mabirizi claims that the action of processing and nomination of the eleven by Electoral Commission (EC) chairman Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi is purportedly null and void.

According to Mabirizi, Justice Byabakama never relinquished his position of a judge before taking over the office of the EC chairman as required under Article 60(5) (d) of the Constitution.

“Whatever Justice Byabakama is doing is illegal because he is illegally in office,” Mabirizi purports in his suit lodged at the East African Court of Justice sub-registry in Kampala on Friday.

Mabirizi is remembered to having recently been unsuccessfully in challenging candidate Robert Kyagulanyi’s academic qualification.

This is not the first time Mabirizi has run to court over Justice Byabaka’s appointment.

In 2019, High Court Judge Musa Ssekaana dismissed a similar case in which Mabirizi and Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago challenged Byabakama’s appointment and they never appealed against the decision.

Mabirizi also wants the court to issue an order requiring each of the presidential candidates to avail original copies of their birth certificates and Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education or its equivalent, arguing that some of them do not possess the same. 

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Recently, Mabirizi unsuccessfully challenged Kyagulanyi’s academic papers after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) took over the matter.

In other reliefs, Mabirizi wants an order declaring the position of the EC chairperson/returning officer for presidential elections vacant and a permanent injunction restraining Justice Byabakama from the continued holding of the position.

Grounds for his case

Mabirizi claims that Kyagulanyi was illegally nominated because he purportedly did not present his original birth certificate to prove that he is a Ugandan by birth.  

Mabirizi further purports that Kyagulanyi does not possess the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education or its equivalent in addition to failure to present a Resolution of National Unity Platform Political Party/Organisation’s general assembly electing him as their flag bearer.

“Section 4 of the Presidential Elections Act, 2005 among others provides that a person is not qualified for election as President unless that person is a citizen of Uganda by birth, is a registered voter and has completed a minimum formal education of Advanced Level standard or its equivalent and Electoral Commission cannot accept a statutory declaration or affidavit as evidence of an academic qualification required,” Mabirizi maintains.

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He also avers that the action of arresting, inhumanly treating, torturing, and detaining Amuriat prior to his nomination and his forceful delivery to the nomination centre also offends provisions of the East African Treaty.

He also attacks the nomination of President Museveni on grounds that it is Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who was verified and cleared and not Yoweri Museveni Tibuharwa who was purportedly nominated.

Mabirizi also argues that it was wrong for the Electoral Commission to nominate presidential candidates in the existence of the Public Health (Control of COVID-19) rules, 2020, which prohibited public meetings, including political rallies, conferences and imposes a curfew prohibiting any person from moving on any road in Uganda in specified times are still in force.

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