Kampala. The Electoral Commission (EC) has confirmed the disqualification of Mr Ibrahim Abiriga from running as a candidate for Arua Municipality parliamentary seat on NRM ticket due to lack of requisite academic qualifications.
“He was disqualified for lack of prerequisite minimum qualifications,” the EC spokesperson, Mr Jotham Taremwa, told Saturday Monitor on Thursday evening.
Mr Abiriga has been in the race with five other contestants. His supporters disregarded the earlier news of his disqualification on Thursday and took to the streets in Arua Town to welcome him, saying it was propaganda to smear their candidate.
In a letter dated February 3, the EC chairman, Dr Badru Kiggundu, states that the commission’s decision was guided by communication from the tertiary institutions which “awarded” Mr Abiriga the academic certificates, which he used as the basis for his nomination.
“This is to inform you that at its meeting held on February 3, 2016, under Minute 116/2016, the commission reversed the returning officer’s decision in nominating you for the elective position of Member of Parliament, Arua Municipality, Arua District, given that the same is contrary to section 4(i) of the Parliamentary Election Act 2005 (As amended),” Dr Kiggundu stated in the letter.
However, Mr Abiriga said he was not aware of the disqualification.
“I am not informed yet. Even my lawyer is not aware. I have just been talking to him now. I have not received a copy of that letter. I am going to continue with my campaigns normally and my agents are reviewing the campaign schedule,” Mr Abiriga said.
According to the EC, Mr Abiriga did not have the equivalent of Advanced Level Certificate and both Uganda Christian University and Uganda Management Institute, which “awarded” him the certificates, said they had never enrolled a person in those names for a course.
The district NRM Chairman, Dr Gabriel Aridru, said: “This is a big blow to us not to have a candidate in a cosmopolitan municipality.”
Mr Abiriga appealed to his supporters to keep calm, saying the party chairman would find a solution to the crisis.
Who is Abiriga?
Mr Abiriga was a key NRM mobiliser in the 2011 polls, where President Museveni won in the municipality after failing in the past elections. He was the RDC of Arua and Yumbe districts. Mr Abiriga at one time threatened to recruit his own teachers during a strike by teachers over salaries.