• Francis Obonyo
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A Court order is a court order; It must be obeyed as ordered unless set aside or varied. Says Lady Justice Langa

High Court: Abiriga Y A Ibrahim Vs Independent Electoral Commission (ELECTION PETITION NO. 02 OF 2016) [2016] UGHCED 4 (11 May 2016); before Lady Justice Damalie N. Lwanga

This was an appeal against the Independent Electoral Commission’s decision to reverse the nomination of the Abiriga Ibrahim to contest for the elective position of Member of Parliament (MP) for Arua Municipality in the Parliamentary Elections. The appeal was brought by way of petition and sought for orders: that the decision of the Commission be set aside, a declaration that the petitioner was rightfully a candidate for the elective position of Member of Parliament Arua Municipality, a permanent injunction restraining the Respondent and its agents from interfering with the nomination and election of the petitioner, and an order to allow the petitioner to continue with the campaign and election processes till the petition is heard.

The petition is supported by the affidavit of the Petitioner/Appellant Abiriga Y.A Ibrahim.
The court found that the evidence of the Petitioner was not challenged and stated that it is trite law that evidence that is not controverted is deemed admitted. The evidence showed that the Respondent’s decision to reverse the nomination of the Petitioner for the elective position of MP, Arua Municipality, Arua District, was based on a complaint regarding his academic documents that had formed the basis for his nomination. However, when that decision was taken, there was a court order to the effect that the Petitioner/Applicant had attained the equivalent of Uganda Certificate of Advanced Education (UACE); and that he qualifies to contest for the NRM primaries for Arua Municipality. Although that order had been directed to the Chairman Electoral Commission of the NRM Political party, the same Judge who made that order wrote a letter clarifying that the order also applies to the Respondent as the court had already verified and confirmed the academic qualifications of the Petitioner/Appellant to be an equivalent of Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education.

The Court further stated that the Respondent is a Government body that is duty-bound to give effect to court orders in its operations. However, it went against the court order and decided to reverse the Petitioner/Appellant nomination as a candidate for the elective position. If the Respondent had any issue with the court order, they should have taken action to have it varied or set aside before taking a decision in contempt of the order. It was not open to the Respondent to ignore the court order, yet it knew about it. A court order must be respected.

Lady Justice Damalie Lwanga held and concluded that, that the decision taken by the Respondent to reverse the nomination of the Petitioner/Appellant was unlawful, a nullity & void abinitio. It is, therefore, set aside. It is declared that the Petitioner was rightly nominated as a candidate for the elective position of Member of Parliament for Arua Municipality Arua District.