Kawempe North Member of Parliament, Muhammad Ssegirinya has been accused by his opponent of playing ping pong games in the petition challenging his election.
Sulaiman Kidandala who came second in the Kawempe North January polls with 7,512 votes dragged Ssegirinya who won the seat with 41,197 votes to court for lack of requisite academic qualifications.
The Electoral Commission is also a respondent in the matter for allowing Ssegirinya nominated when he is not a registered voter of Kawempe North or any other area in Uganda .
On Thursday, when the case came up, EC lawyer, Edwin Tabaro said that Ssegirinya had never been notified by Kindandala’s lawyers of the petition against him since he was in prison at Kitalya where he was remanded over unlawful assembly.
Tabaro told court that there is no evidence to show that Ssegirinya was served personally or through the Officer in Charge of Kitalya prison as the law says.
Ping Pong games
However, Kidandala’s lawyers led by Kenneth Paul Kakande said that Ssegirinya was playing ping pong games to waste court’s time.
The lawyers insisted that it is appalling that having been served through the Officer in Charge of Kitalya prison, Ssegirinya is still denying.
“In electoral matters, service is not done like it is in other civil matters. At Kitalya, when we talked to the OC of the prison, he called the first respondent ( Ssegirinya) and on coming he said he could not receive the petition without his lawyer. When we tried to serve the OC of the prison, he refused to acknowledge service,” Kakande told court.
Speaking to journalists later, Kakande insisted that Ssegirinya is playing games as one of the tactics to escape the petition.
“We are aware that Ssegirinya is processing a visa to Germany under the guise of sickness so that when he is wanted by court, he is not around. He is trying to run away from the real issues in the petition by claiming that he was not served but this won’t allowed,” he said.
The lawyer also told court that they had also used the second option when they were allowed to serve Ssegirinya the petition challenging his election through the notice board.
“It was effective service since court allowed us to pin a notice on the notice board that we did,” he said.
Court sets ground
The court has however set September 2, 2021 as the date to hear the application in which the Electoral Commission asked that the election petition against Ssegirinya be dismissed for not being served.
In its arguments, the EC says there is no evidence to show that Kidandala’s lawyers served Ssegirinya with a copy of the petition challenging his election since he was in prison by the time the petition was filed.
“It’s not true that I witnessed the service of the notice of presentation of the petition on Ssegirinya Muhammed and that he refused to sign on them after reading through as alleged or that the documents were left at the prison,” says an affidavit by Felix Mugirya, the deputy officer in charge of Kitalya prison where Ssegirinya was kept.
The affidavit has been used by the Electoral Commission in their application seeking for the petition against Ssegirinya to be dismissed.
Speaking to journalists , EC lawyer, Edwin Tabaro said Kidandala’s petition doesn’t stand if the first respondent, Ssegirinya was not served with the same.
“That is what the Constitution provides on how to handle cases of this nature. In this case, there is no petition if it was not served on respondent. Orders were clear that you can serve the OC for Kitalya prison and not necessarily Ssegirinya but as we stand now, none of the two was done,” Tabaro said.
In Thursday’s proceedings, Ssegirinya again was not present in court.
Justice Henrietta Wolayo has now set September 2, 2021 as the date to hear the application by the Electoral Commission asking for dismissal of the case against Ssegirinya for not being served with the petition.