Court

Judge condemns Shumuk lawyers for wasting time in Nakawa West petition

Nakawa West MP Joel Ssenyonyi. Shukla Mukesh is seeking to overturn his election victory. File Photo

KAMPALA, UGANDA: Justice Isaac Muwata has lashed out at the lawyers representing Shukla Mukesh alias Shumuk, the former Nakawa West parliament candidate for wasting the court’s time.

Mukesh wants the high court to overturn the victory of Joel Ssenyonyi on grounds that the Electoral Commission did not follow the provisions of the laws relating to elections, when it was declaring him the winner of the January 14th election.

On Tuesday, the parties were supposed to agree on the issues that they want the court to determine. They were also supposed to file their scheduling memoranda and written submissions as directed by the court last week. However, Mukesh’s lawyers never filed any of the above. They had also amended the affidavits, which had already been filed in the court contrary to the judge’s ruling.

Last week, Muwata allowed Mukesh to recommission his affidavits because the original affidavits had been commissioned by a lawyer whose practicing certificate had expired. When the matter came up for hearing, Ssenyonyi’s lawyers wanted the court to strike out the affidavits because of failure by the applicants to obey court directives.

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“We received the affidavit for the petitioner and having had a thorough perusal, we realized that they were in contempt of the court order. They have substantially amended the affidavit introducing issues that were never in the original affidavit,” said Denis Atwijukire, one of Ssenyonyi’s lawyers.

There were back and forth arguments between the lawyers accusing each of wasting the court’s time by dwelling on non-issues. In the end, Muwata ruled that any objections at this level should be included in the parties’ written submissions and the court will decide on them when disposing off the petition.

In the end, four issues were agreed upon for the court to determine. They are whether there is a valid and competent petition before the court, whether there were illegal practices or any electoral offences committed by Ssenyonyi or Electoral Commission personally or through their agents, whether there was noncompliance with electoral laws and if so, whether such non-compliance affected the results in a substantial manner and what remedies are available to the parties.

The parties also agreed on cross-examining both Ssenyonyi and Mukesh. When the judge asked when the cross-examination should start, Mukesh’s lawyers said October 6th, 2021, which prompted Muwata to lose his cool. “You are a joker, you can’t say I can wait up to the 6th, these things were given two weeks to be heard. So, by the 6th, I will be doing my other things. You have wasted a lot of time so far” Muwata told Assimwe Agius, one of Muskesh’s lawyers before ruling that cross-examinations must take place today.

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He gave each party one hour to cross-examine its witnesses. “Please prepare for tomorrow, I have given all of you time to present your case and we shall use the law to decide the matter,” Muwata said. The Nakawa West election petition is one of only two cases that are yet to be determined by the court.

The other is the challenge against Salim Uhuru’s victory as Kampala Central Division Mayor. All the other election petitions heard from the Kampala High Court have already been determined and disposed off by other judges.

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