KAMPALA – During the pre-trial session of the election petition at Supreme Court about two weeks ago, Robert Kyagulanyi,’s lawyers told the Supreme Court panel of nine justices led by Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo that they were facing hurdles in collection of hurdles.
“Some of our witnesses who would have sworn in affidavits have been arrested. “Some of them were arrested in Mbarara. We couldn’t meet them because they had a meeting with the Deputy Inspector General of Police [Maj Gen Paul Lokech],” Mr Medard Lubega Sseggona, Mr Kyagulanyi’s lead lawyer of the day, told court
This statement by the lawyers signalled the bumps and hurdles that were bound to come for Bobi Wine who is challenging President Museveni’s recent electoral victory.
Then on February 9, the court unanimously dismissed Bobi Wine’s application seeking to amend his petition on grounds that the issues the amendment sought to introduce had already been raised in the original petition.
The court ruling followed submissions in which Mr Kyagulanyi, through his lawyers led by Mr Sseggona, vainly asked the court to allow his client extra permission to file additional affidavits to support his petition.
In his submissions, Mr Sseggona had asked the court to allow his clients file the new affidavits out of time to enable the court to effectively interrogate the petition.
On Friday, February 19, 2021, the Supreme Court rejected additional evidence which Mr Kyagulanyi’s lawyers said was contained in more than 200 affidavits to beef up their challenge to Mr Museveni’s re-election. The affidavits were attached with evidential documents, audio and video compact discs (CDs) in four volumes.
The rejected documents included affidavits by Mr Kyagulanyi’s NUP party lawyer Benjamin Katana and party secretary general David Lewis Rubongoya, Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze, and other sworn statements by jailed singer Ali Bukeni, aka Nubian Li, and veteran journalist Kalundi Serumaga.
The Friday Supreme Court’s ruling was the third time that Mr Kyagulanyi suffered a setback in his bid to overturn Mr Museveni’s victory.
So on Monday, when the National Unity Platform president justified the decision to withdraw the election petition, the writing was already on the wall.
Bobi Wine said he did not expect justice from what he described as a compromised Supreme Court.
Bobi Wine explained that his case will now be taken to the public court since Ugandan courts have failed to show that they are independent but instead continue to work for President Museveni
“We have decided to remove our case from Owiny Dollo’s court, we shall now take the matter to the court of public opinion,” Bobi Wine said.
“Just like Museveni sought to challenge the victory of Obote in 1980 and later withdrew the case and chose to go to the bush, we have also sought the same since the circumstances are not any different,” he added.
“We are peaceful and we shall not use violence as Museveni did,” he explained.
On Friday, Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo said that the judges of the Supreme Court cannot be intimidated by statements made by Bobi Wine in the handling of the Presidential Election petition that seeks to challenge President Museveni’s victory in the January 14 polls.
“If anyone thinks he can intimidate, blackmail, induce the Chief Justice, then he is headed for a crash. I have a conviction that what I am doing is right,” said Chief Justice Dollo adding that whatever is being said outside the court premises have no bearing on the presidential election petition.
Justice Dollo added: “I want to say that the judges took oath to protect the Constitution. In the oath, we all took to exercise judicial functions entrusted to me in accordance with the laws of Uganda without fear, favour, affection or ill-will.”
While the Judiciary insists that it is independent, doubts will always remain.
On Sunday, the Judiciary came out to clarify that the Chief Justice has never secretly met President Museveni contrary to the social media reports.
Social media reports had claimed that a police officer had been arrested for leaking CCTV video footage and photographs of the Judiciary leaders’ motorcade driving into and out of the State House, Entebbe, for the alleged secret meeting.
The Judiciary has instead clarified that the recent meetings that the two leaders have had, were official and that were held in public and in full glare of the media.
Peter Walubiri, a constitutional lawyer, explains that the current political environment could not allow a petitioner to file a formidable presidential petition challenging Mr Museveni’s election victory.
“The violence seen in the previous election was too much. We didn’t experience that in 2006 or 2001. I can imagine many people who would have given evidence are now in fear. It is very hard to get evidence in a presidential petition with the way Uganda is run,” he says.