The Court of Appeal sitting in Kampala has dismissed with costs an election appeal challenging the victory of Hon.Dr. Lokii John Baptist, the Member of Parliament of Matheniko County in Moroto district.
The Court of Appeal panel comprised of the Deputy Chief Justice, Richard Buteera, Lady Justices Catherine Bamugemereire and Irene Mulyagonja, dismissed the appeal filed by Oloo Paul on grounds that it was filed out of the stipulated time of seven days as required by Section 30 of the Parliamentary Elections-Election Petitions Rules.
The ruling was delivered Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at 12:30pm.
Paul Oloo, an independent candidate garnered 6,602 votes against Lokii’s 6,794 votes.
Oloo ran to High Court in Soroti on grounds that there was impersonation of polling agents and falsification of results, and non-compliance with electoral laws that allegedly affected the outcome of the results.
In September 2021, Oloo’s lawyer Richard Latigo told the court presided over by Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga that the election was marred with several malpractices like ballot stuffing, multiple voting, intimidation, violence and bribery among others.
The Notice of Appeal was filed up in the High Court at Soroti on 23rd September 2021, the justices said, explaining that the memorandum of appeal, therefore, ought to have been filed on 30th September 2021.
“Instead, it was filed on 28th October 2021 which was a period of 28 days outside the time within which it ought to have been filed. A delay of 28 days is inexcusable within the legal framework of hearing electoral disputes.” Rules 34 of the election petition rules provides that unless the court extends the time on exceptional grounds, the hearing of an appeal shall be completed within 30 days from the lodging of the appeal in court.
“But before that, Section 66 of the parliamentary elections act imposes a duty on this court to hear and dispose of all electoral appeals within a period of six months in addition, the court must suspend all other matters pending before it,” the justices ruled.
“Given the provisions above, this court cannot extend the time within which to lodge an appeal except where special circumstances are advanced and approved by the applicant. We find that the applicant has not advanced any such circumstances. Instead, he is guilty of inordinate delay in lodging his appeal by this court.”
According to the ruling, Oloo’s application validates the memorandum of appeal that was filed on 23rd December 2021 after the respondent filed his application to strike out election petition appeal no 62 of 2021 on 2nd November 2021.
“We are therefore persuaded that he exercised diligence even in filing the application to correct the error brought about by the absence of diligence in pursuing the appeal. The lodgement of the application after the application to strike out the appeal concretizes our perception that the applicant was not diligent at all in pursuing his intended appeal.”
“W, therefore,e find that we have nothing upon which to exercise our discretion to extend the time within which to lodge the appeal or validate the memorandum of appeal that was filed 28 days out of time specified by the election petition rules.”
Issue 2: “82 Application to strike out notice of Appeal or Appeal”
Rule 82 of the Court of Appeal Rules provides as follows a person on whom a notice of appeal has been served may at any time, either before or after the institution of the appeal, apply to the court to strike out the notice of appeal, as the case may be, on the ground that no appeal lies or that some essential step on the proceedings has not been taken within the prescribed time.
In this case, though the respondent, Mr Oloo, filed a memorandum of appeal on 23rd October, the step was taken out of the period of 7 days prescribed by the Elections Petition Rules.
“According to rule 83 of the rules of this court are instituted by lodging a memorandum of Appeal in the Registry. This also applies to electoral petition appeals, although they are subject to timelines specified in the electoral laws and regulations made under them”.
The justices said Oloo has not furnished proof to show that there are special circumstances that would persuade judges to validate his intended appeal.
“He clearly didn’t take an essential step to bring his appeal to this court. There is, therefore, no Appeal before this court because the memorandum of appeal that he purported to file on October 23, 2021, is incompetent.”
“In conclusion, therefore, MA No. 412 of 2021 is hereby dismissed with costs to the respondent therein. Election petition Application with No. 12 of 2021 is allowed with costs to the applicant therein. And as a consequence, Civil Appeal No. 62 of 2021 is hereby struck out with costs to the respondent therein it is ordered,” the justices concluded.