By Farooq Kasule
Jailed Kawempe North MP Muhammad Ssegirinya’s opponent Sulaiman Sserwadda Kidandala has withdrawn the election petition appeal against him.
In a letter filed at the Court of Appeal registry dated February 17, 2022, Kidandala states that he has lost interest in the prosecution of the matter because of the continued incarceration of Ssegirinya.
Kidandala claims that pursing the appeal against Ssegirinya portrays him as part of the State.
Through his lawyers of Alaka and Company Advocates, Kidandala contends that the continued incarceration of Ssegirinya has greatly compromised his values for progressive change in the country.
“We are, therefore, instructed to pray that the appeal be withdrawn,” the letter reads in part.
Ssegirinya is indicted with several counts of murder from the greater Maska region relating to the bijambiya attacks on a number of civilians shortly after the January 14, 2021, presidential elections.
Over 30 people were murdered in the attacks and the motive of the murders is yet to be known although the Police claim that they were politically motivated.
Ssegirinya is battling the charges together with Makindye West MP Allan Ssewanyana and four others. They are currently on remand pending trial.
Kidandala had appealed against the decision by High Court Judge Henrietta Wolayo last year, saying the judge erred in law and fact.
Wolayo dismissed the case on grounds of ineffective service. She ruled that Kidandala failed to comply with directives contained in a substituted service order issued by High Court Judge Emmanuel Baguma.
Baguma had directed Kidandala to serve Ssegirinya with the petition through the officer in charge (OC) at Kitalya prison, who should also witness the presentation of the petition to him.
“In the context of the order of my brother judge, witnessing service meant the OC had to endorse the petition and if declined to do so, the process server was to report accordingly in his affidavit of service but this was not done,” Wolayo noted.
The judge observed that the process server Fred Kato that Kidandala used only focused on presenting the petition to Ssegirinya and did not seek endorsement from the OC as per the court order.
“Service on the OC would have been construed as effective service even if Ssegirinya had declined to accept service. In the premises, the petition is rendered redundant for non-service and is struck off the record,” Wolayo ruled.
The judge said even if the process server visited Kitalya, he did not effect service in the manner ordered by court.
“I find that the order to serve the respondent (Ssegirinya) personally and the order to pin the petition on the notice board had to be effected concurrently and non-implementation of one meant the service was ineffective,” Wolayo noted.
In her analysis, the judge said Baguma’s order for substituted service did not depart from the requirement in rule 17 of the Parliamentary Election rules for service to be personal.
In his petition, Kidandala claimed that Ssegirinya presented forged academic papers to the Electoral Commission for nomination.
Kidandala filed the petition after a search lodged to the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) revealed inconsistencies in Ssegirinya’s O’ and A’ Level certificates.
In his letter dated March 17, 2021,UNEB secretary Peter Anywar revealed that the O’Level documents used by Ssegirinya belong to Sarah Nampiima, who was a student at Mengo Secondary School.
Moureen Nabadda (also Mengo Secondary School), on the other hand, is listed as the owner of the A’Level results that Ssegirinya purports to be his.
Under the Parliamentary Elections Act of 2005, a person qualifies to be an MP in Uganda if he or she possesses a Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) or its equivalent.