The High Court has set next Friday as the day it will deliver judgement on whether the by-election to replace the embattled Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago should be cancelled or not.
Mr Lukwago wants court to cancel the ongoing campaigns and the resultant by-election scheduled for April 17, until his main petition challenging his impeachment as Lord Mayor by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) councillors is heard and disposed of by court.
During the Friday hearing of Mr Lukwago’s application to halt the by-elections, lawyers for both sides made lengthy submissions that closed at 8:30pm, outside the normal court time of 5pm.
Counsel for the Attorney General Martin Mwambutsya held that the said court order presented to KCCA council in November to stop the impeachment proceedings was fake.
State submissionsHe argued that the order did not bear a signature, court stamp or a seal and that they could not rely on it to stop the impeachment proceedings.
Mr Mwambutysa said the only valid order was served to the Attorney General at 10:05am when the KCCA councillors had already voted out Mr Lukwago and that there was no status quo to preserve as the court had directed“Consequently, you cannot hold the AG for the act he was not in charge of as he could not reverse the clock to suit the court order of 10:05am following the impeachment at 9:30am,” Mr Mwambutysa said.
He also submitted that Justice Yasin Nyanzi’s extension of an earlier interim order by registrar Fred Waninda stopping the impeachment process was in vain because there was no valid court order to extend.
The Attorney General is jointly sued with KCCA, Electoral Commission and Minister for Kampala Frank Tumwebaze. The KCCA lawyer, Mr Dickinson Akena and Eric Sabiiti for EC, supplemented the AG’s submissions in challenging Mr Lukwago’s application and asked court to dismiss it with costs.
Mr Sabiiti aised Mr Lukwago to join the campaigns for the mayoral by-elections, saying there is no law barring him from contesting despite the impeachment.
Mr Lukwago’s lawyer, Mr Abdu Katuntu, however, stated that the respondents (AG, Minister for Kampala, KCCA and EC) had deliberately disobeyed the court orders and went ahead to organise illegal by-election. He said there is no vacant Lord Mayor’s seat.
Mr Katuntu told court that Mr Lukwago’s legal team did everything possible despite being beaten by police as they served the court order to the intended recipients, including Kampala minister Frank Tumwebaze and the Attorney General.
Mr Katuntu challenged Mr Tumwebaze why he did not attach the ‘fake’ court order if it existed to prove their claim that what councillor Mr Allan Ssewanyana presented was a false court order which could not be acted upon.
A video footage of what happened on the impeachment day, which was played in court, showed councillor Ssewanyana and city lawyer Abdallah Kiwanuka labouring in vain to serve Mr Tumwebaze the court order.
The video footage showed how Mr Ssewanyana made an extra effort by jumping over tables at City Hall in a bid to serve Mr Tumwebaze the court order. In the footage, lawyer Kiwanuka is seen being blocked at the entrance to City Hall by police who roughed him up and dragged him on the ground until he started bleeding.
“It’s the duty of the court to jealously guard the effectiveness of its orders and promote the rule of law in the country. Court should not set a bad precedent of how one can disobey a court order and easily get away with it as this would be doom for the country,” Mr Katuntu submitted.
Towards conclusion of the proceedings, the judge tasked Mr Mwambutsya to explain the chronology of the events that led to the court case and the KCCA council meeting on the same day and almost the same time on November 25 last year.
Mr Mwambutsya laboured to explain that on November 21, court issued them with summons to appear for Mr Lukwago’s interim injunction on November 25 at 10am. He said the following day, Minister Tumwebaza too summoned KCCA councillors for a meeting also slated for November 25 at 9am.The judge asked if there was any effort by the Attorney General to reconcile the dates since court had first issued summons to the parties to hear Mr Lukwago’s interim injunction but the minister for Kampala also issued summons for KCCA councillors to deliberate on the same subject matter.
The judge warned EC not to hold any nominations for the mayoral by-elections before her ruling on Friday. The EC has set March 31 and April 1 for nomination of candidates for by-elections.
How it all startedThe November impeachment followed aice of a KCCA appointed tribunal which found Mr Lukwago guilty of abuse of office, misconduct and incompetence and recommended that he be removed from office.
Court issued an order stopping the impeachment proceedings until Mr Lukwago’s main petition was concluded but KCCA ignored it and the councillors voted Mr Lukwago out of office on a 29-3 majority decision. Mr Lukwago again petitioned court, which ruled that his status as Lord Mayor be maintained until his main appeal was concluded.
However, KCCA communicated to the Electoral Commission of a vacant Lord Mayor position which required to be filled. The EC set April 17 for the by-election.
The ruling NRM party has already started primaries to select its flag bearer, but opposition parties have said they will not participate in what they call an illegality. Mr Lukwago again petitioned court to halt the by-election process.
SOURCE: DAILY MONITOR