The out-going Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mr Jacob Oulanyah and his lawyers on Wednesday failed to attend the election petition hearing case at the Gulu High Court that was presided over by the Mbarara resident Judge David Matovu.
The Omoro County MP was supposed to appear in the dock to defend accusations by his rival Mr Simon Toolit Akecha who dragged him (Oulanyah) and Electoral Commission to court in March this year challenging his February 18 election victory.
Mr Akecha lost on the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party ticket after he garnered 6,823 votes while Mr Oulanyah who stood on the National Resistance Movement (NRM) ticket garnered 8,218 votes and was declared winner of the highly contested Omoro county seat.
The loosely packed court room had only the petitioner's lawyer Deo Kizito from Rwakafuzi and Co Advocates and Peter Mulongo, the counsel for the Electoral Commission and handful of other people had turned up to witness court proceedings.
Justice Matovu who observed the absence of Mr Oulanyah and his lawyers during the court session told court that it was hard for him to hear petition in the absence of Mr Oulanya who is the first respondent.
"I have instructed the counsel of the petitioner to extract a hearing notice and present to the first respondent and his lawyers of the new date of conferencing and hearing of the case," said Justice Matovu.
Justice Matovu reasoned that if Mr Oulanya fails to appear on the next set date, court will proceed to hear the case in his absence.
Mr Oulanyah however when contacted by Daily Monitor in a telephone interview said he could not attend a case in which he didn't receive any notice from the petitioner.
"I cannot talk much because I am in for my swearing in ceremony at the Parliament, but I can tell you that this case was not fixed for hearing, so what is happening is out of my knowledge because I wasn't served," Mr Oulanyah said.
Daily Monitor however understands that Mr Oulanyah through his lawyers Lex Advocates received the petition notice and also served court accordingly with their affidavits.
Mr Mulongo who represented EC however said they are confident and ready to proceed with the case saying they have enough affidavits to defend themselves against the petition.
Justice Matovu adjourned the case to May 23 this year for conferencing and Hearing.
Source: The Monitor