Lawyers representing President Yoweri Museveni have told the Supreme Court that National Unity Platform Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine was playing games with court when he filed and later withdrew the presidential election petition.
Responding to Kyaugulanyi’s application to withdraw the petition, Edwin Karugire said whereas they are okay with the withdrawal, they don’t agree with reasons fronted for the same.
“We are here to correct the falsehoods in Kyagulanyi’s statement when he said the rules were applied to his disadvantage. What he has alleged is very false and has grave consequences. All is diversionary noise,”Karugire told court on Friday.
The lawyer representing Museveni explained that to the contrary, more days had been added within which a person can file an election petition to 45 unlike in the previous elections where aggrieved parties had only 30 days to challenge a presidential election.
Karugire said this time is the longest among all the countries neighboring Uganda noting that it is only fair for Kyagulanyi to appreciate.
“The 15 extra days is adequate time to file an election petition but the applicant also got two extra days after the expiry of time stipulated to file the petition.The court could have set 29th as the last day(to file the petition) but this time was extended to Monday February 1, 2021 but this has turned out to be a source of attack and ridicule to the courts from the applicant.”
In his application to withdraw the election petition, Kyagulanyi told court that it was biased against him when it declined his request to amend the petition but also file additional evidence in form of affidavits.
He argued that during his house arrest, he could not contact his lawyers plus witnesses and therefore court ought to have been considerate and added him extra time to amend his petition but also file additional evidence.
However, Karugire insisted that Kyagulanyi told lies when he said the house arrest crippled him from accessing lawyers and witnesses.
“The house arrest didn’t stop him from filing the petition in time because an affidavit sworn by one of his lawyers, Godfrey Turyamusiima indicates that he was in constant contact with him every day. Francis Zaake also said in his affidavit that on January 29, 2021 he said he got a call from the applicant(Kyagulanyi) summoning him to his home,”Museveni’s lawyer told court.
The lawyer invited court to disregard the reasons fronted by Kyagulanyi for withdrawing his petition challenging President Museveni’s election noting they are not genuine.
“He was in constant contact with his lawyers and party officials. It is therefore not true that he had no communication with the outside world as he alleges. In fact he was in communication with his lawyers as early as January 21, 2021. We, therefore, need to cut through this unprincipled noise,”Karugire said.
In his affidavit, Kyagulanyi said he had been forced to withdraw the petition after his witnesses were threatened, arrested or investigated by the state on trumped-up charges.
“The petitioner’s witnesses are being abducted, tortured, harassed and intimidated by state security operatives at the behest of the first(Museveni) and third respondent(Attorney General)’s agents. Organs of the state like Uganda Police Force and NIRA are being used by the respondents to investigate and infringe on privacy of the petitioner’s witnesses,”Kyagulanyi said.
In response to the same, Museveni’s lawyers described the claims as baseless asking court to dismiss the same.
“He had no chance of succeeding in this petition and hence the withdrawal. There is no evidence to show the said witnesses(who were arrested and tortured) How could he rely on evidences he had not talked to? It was also found out that 10 out of the 15 affidavits had been forged. He is playing a game without rules that he wants to file evidence when he wants. The court can’t be party to this,”Karugire said.
The lawyers also accused Kyagulanyi of launching a media attack against the Supreme Court and its justices when he said his petition would be determined by the public court.
“Why didn’t he submit evidence in real-time? This is the only public court and not any other court. Any attempt to talk of any other court is overthrowing the will of the people. It is wrong to attack courts of law yet his political career is because of a court decision.”
The Electoral Commission and Attorney General lawyers also reasoned with Karugire’s submissions and asked court to order Kyagulanyi to pay costs for withdrawing the petition.
However, in rejoinder, Kyagulanyi’s lawyers led by Medard Sseggona asked their counterparts for Museveni to provide evidence to prove media statements attributed to Kyagulanyi while attacking the court and its judges.
Sseggona distanced himself from the attack on the curt noting that he stands with court.
“This(Supreme Court) is the only people’s court established by the Constitution of this land. In case of anything that seeks to ridicule this court, I stand with this court,”Sseggona said.
The court however allowed Kyagulanyi’s application to withdraw the 2021 presidential election petition but the justices said they would give a detailed ruling at a later date .