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MP Nsereko not yet served with poll petition,  lawyer tells court

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By Anthony Wesaka

By Juliet Kigongo

A lawyer representing Kampala Central Member of Parliament Mohammed Nsereko yesterday told the High Court that the legislator is not aware of any election petition challenging his January 14 victory.
Lawyer Bernard Mutyaba made the revelation during the pre-session meeting before presiding judge Margaret Apinyi.

This was after the parties turned up to agree on how to proceed with the hearing of the poll petition in which Mr Fred Nyanzi Ssentamu of the National Unity Platform (NUP) is challenging Mr Nsereko’s win.
But Justice Apinyi asked the parties to return to court on Monday next week ready to proceed with the hearing of the petition.

Speaking to the journalists outside the courtroom, lawyer Mutyaba insisted that his client, MP Nsereko, had never been served with a copy of the petition,  and that is  why he has never filed a defence.
“He (MP Nsereko) is ready to come to court when served with the election petition and he is willing to defend himself if served,” Mr Mutyaba said.

On the contrary, Mr Nyanzi, who was physically present at court, accused MP Nsereko of hiding to elude justice.
“They have not filed their defence, I don’t know why a young lawyer is hiding from the rule of law to defeat justice,” Mr Nyanzi, the elder brother of NUP leader Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, said.
During the pre-hearing session, Justice Apinyi outlined rules to the parties for the Monday session.

She called upon the parties to prevail over their respective supporters. She also urged the lawyers to remain professional and also that she would not entertain unnecessary applications intended to derail the hearing process.
Election laws give court 30 days to hear and pass a judgment in a given election poll dispute.

In mid-April, court declined to grant a request by Mr Nyanzi to serve MP Nsereko with the election petition through substitute service for allegedly failing to physically trace him.

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Then presiding Judge Phillip Odoki said that he was not convinced by Mr Nyanzi’s argument that he had failed to locate Mr Nsereko since he had travelled out of the country.
“I will, therefore, decline to grant the applicant the prayer to serve the 3rd respondent by substitute service and/ or by posting it upon the court’s notice board,” ruled Justice Odoki.

Mr Nyanzi is seeking to nullify the re-election of Mr Nsereko, citing at least 17 grounds of alleged electoral malpractices by the Electoral Commission and Mr Nsereko. He also cites 50 polling stations which he claims have clear arithmetical errors which can’t be explained by the electoral body.

Issue
In the January 14 elections, the returning officer for Kampala Central, who has been jointly sued along Mr Nsereko and the EC, declared Mr Nsereko the winner of the race, with 16,998 votes, against Mr Nyanzi’s 15,975 votes. Section 6 (1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act states that within seven days after filing the petition with the registrar, the petitioner or his advocate shall serve each respondent a notice in writing of the presentation of the  petition, accompanied by a copy of the petition.

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