The Judiciary has revealed that it will go ahead and
hear election petitions exparte if any person whose victory is being challenged
refuses to file a response to the case against them.
Jamson Karemani, the Judiciary Public Relations Officer revealed this to Uganda Radio Network (URN) during an exclusive interview aimed at finding out the options available
in case a petitioner tries to serve a respondent but they adamantly refuse to
accept documents and as well fail to put in a response or delay to acknowledge
The law provides for seven days within which to serve
the respondent and ten days for them to make a response to the petition.
But according to Karemani,
the law provides that the petitioner has to serve the respondent physically and
if he or she looks for them and fails to get them, he or she can go to the
place where they think that person resides with the help of a local council
Chairperson and pin the documents on that person's door.
If they fail to succeed, Karemani states that the
petitioner can then return to the court to file an application for substituted
service such that the person can be served through mass media like radios,
television or newspapers.
//Cue in: “Now in some….
Cue out: …through
Cue in: “Omuntu bwaba….
Cue out: …mu mawulire.”//
He adds however, that the petitioner must have
evidence to prove that he or she tried to serve someone on a given date and
failed which has to be by way of an affidavit.
Karemani who also doubles as the Civil Division Registrar
says in the event that an application for substituted service is granted but
still the respondents don't file a response, Karemani says courts will go
ahead and hear the matter exparte although he doesn’t reveal how many cases haven’t
yet been responded to.
He says hearing of the case exparte doesn't
automatically mean that the petitioner is going to win the case. But instead,
the petitioner has to prove reasonable grounds to be given judgement in his
//Cue in: “There are so…
Cue out: …given to you.”//
//Cue in: “Koti bweba…
Cue out: …judgement yo.”//
Recently, several petitioners tried to look for the respondents
in their case but failed to get them physically and had to return to court
seeking permission to serve them using alternative means.
Some of these include, Forum for Democratic Change
Candidate for Kamuli District Woman MP race Salam Proscovia Musumba who filed
case against Rebecca Kadaga challenging the outcome of the January 14th,
Another was National Resistance Movement Candidate in
the Katikamu North Elections Gaddafi Nassur who filed a case against his rival
Denes Ssekabira who won the race on National Unity Platform party ticket.
Others include Sulaiman Kidandala who wanted to serve
copies of the petition to his rival Muhammad Ssegirinya who had been sent to
Kitalya prison and Fred Nyanzi Ssentamu against Muhammad Nsereko.
These are some of the 104 election petitions that were
filed in various High Court circuits in the country grounded mainly on allegations of violence, election fraud, and lack of
the requisite academic qualifications. These were filed shortly after the
February 17th, 2021 Uganda gazette confirming the persons whose victory is being
challenged as the legitimate winners of the January 14 elections.
But to date, despite the fact that the law says election
Petitions have to be handled with urgency and within 30 days, almost two months
later the matters have not yet been fixed for hearing.
But Karemani explains that the Judiciary has already
made a deployment plan of the Judges, with the Mbale circuit which has the
highest number of petitions to have four Judges and others have also been
deployed in various circuits depending on the number of cases filed there. He says delay of the cases is because the Ministry of Finance is yet to release funds for this coming
financial year quarter.