The Electoral Commission has disqualified Bernard Onen Odoi, the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) flag bearer for youth Member of Parliament for Eastern Uganda from the race for being too old.
According to a December 31,2020 letter by the EC chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama following complaints about Odoi’s particulars, especially age, it was found out that he was ineligible to stand in the youth elections.
“Whereas the said candidate stated in his nomination paper that he is 29 years old, according to his voter registration details, his date of birth is 27th August ,1990 and this makes him 30 years by the time he was nominated. The same date of birth is captured as such in the village youth council nomination register for the period July/August 2020,”Byabakama said in the letter.
The Electoral Commission chairperson noted that upon further scrutiny of the documents tendered by Odoi, both the enrolment forms duly filled on June 3, 2014 and an application for replacement of lost,defaced or damaged national ID and tendered to the National Identification and Registration Authority indicate that he was born in 1986.
Citing further irregularities, the election body says that a birth certificate for Odoi indicates that he was born on August, 28, 1982 whereas he corrected particulars of his date of birth to August, 1991 and that this correction was effected in October 2019 to enable him to participate in the National Youth Council and Committee elections.
Odoi’s details at NIRA tendered as evidence to the Electoral Commission by the petitioner indicate that the candidate was born in 1991 and this means that he should be 29 years of age.
However, according to academic documents, Odoi sat for his Ordinary level certificate at Tororo Progressive in 1999, which means he was in Senor four at the age of eight.
The documents also state that Odoi enrolled in Lugazi Homeland College in 2009 for Advanced Level Certificate and completed the same year.
“Further given that the said candidate admitted that he completed the Uganda Certificate of Education in 1999, this makes the date of birth of 28th August, 1991 improbable, given the mandatory years required for one to attain both primary and secondary education in Uganda. He definitely could not have completed O level education at eight years of age,”Byabakama said.
The Electoral Commission chairperson consequently wrote to the returning officer in charge of the Eastern Region Youth Representative Elections to disqualify Bernard Onen Odoi for being too old.
Bernard Onen Odoi has become the second NRM flag bearer to be disqualified from the national youth elections race after Blaise Kamugisha was last year thrown out for being too old.
Under section 1(g) of the National Youth Council Act, cap 319, a youth means a person between the age of 18 and 30 years.
The act however stipulates under section 8(9) that any person holding an office in a youth council shall not vacate office on the sole reason that he or she has attained 30 years of age at any time during his or her term of office.