Ssenyonyi fumes as High court adjourns Shumuk’s petition hearing

KAMPALA, UGANDA: Joel Ssenyonyi, the Nakawa West legislator has accused his challenger Mukesh Shukla for wasting his, and the court’s time by seeking what he called unnecessary adjournments.

Mukesh commonly known as Shumuk petitioned the High Court seeking to overturn the outcome of the January 14 polls in which Joel Ssenyonyi emerged winner after beating 13 other candidates. Shumuk says that the results that were declared by the Electoral Commission did not reflect the voters in Nakawa West.

He alleged that area presiding officers connived with Ssenyonyi’s agents to alter the Declaration Results forms to snatch his victory. But he eventually sought to amend the petition and include new grounds. The court last week gave the two parties up to three days to file and serve responses seeking leave of court to amend the original petition filed in March this year.

Today, it was expected that the court would hear and probably dispose off the applications. However, Mukesh’s lawyers led by Enock Kayondo said they needed to file a rejoinder to the response from Ssenyonyi’s lawyers. But they failed to file the rejoinder because they were served with the response yesterday.

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Ssenyonyi’s lawyers tried to resist the adjournment arguing that they were ready to proceed. “My Lord, the rejoinders should be made as we proceed with the hearing of the application. Otherwise, allowing an adjournment will be an abuse of the court process,” said George Musisi, Ssenyonyi’s lead lawyer in the petition.

However, High Court Judge Isaac Muwata allowed the adjournment saying there was no need for arguing about it when one party was not ready. Having ruled on the matter, Musisi urged the court to proceed with their application seeking to strike out from the court record an amendment filed in court in May after the expiry of the mandatory time of filing election petitions without seeking leave of court.

Muwata adjourned to August 31, the hearing of not only the main petition but also two other applications in which Mukesh is seeking leave of court to amend his election petition and another in which Ssenyonyi is challenging the amendment of the main petition after the expiry of the time in which an amendment can be accepted without leave of court.

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This was also resisted by Mukesh’s lawyers who said it had the potential of affecting their application seeking leave of court to amend the petition. In the end, Muwata also adjourned the hearing of this application to August 31. Earlier, the court had allowed Mukesh to withdraw a similar application he had earlier filed in which he had also sought leave to amend his main petition.

“When you don’t have much to keep you occupied this is what you do. I think the petitioner really is suffering from what to do. That’s why he’s wasting court’s time. First, he brought a frivolous petition and now he’s asking for adjournment after adjournment. If this is a serious petition, let’s deal with the matter and dispose it off,” Ssenyonyi said.

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