On January 17, National Unity Platform (NUP) party leaders paraded a limping and wailing man, a resident of Ssempijja Zone in Bukoto, a Kampala City suburb, before journalists.
They claimed he had been attacked in the middle of the night by security operatives, whom he said battered him.
Mr Andrew Natumanya, who was an agent of NUP’s presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, in the January 14 election, said in addition to being roughed up, security personnel took away his valuables, including laptops, cameras, a mobile phone and results declaration forms from the presidential election. He did not say how many forms were involved.
NUP leaders, including party spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi, lawyer Benjamin Katana, and deputy president in charge of the central region Mathias Mpuuga, attempted to storm Kira Road Police Station to retrieve the forms, claiming they had received information that they had been taken there.
But the leaders suddenly developed cold feet, saying it was “not a smart move” at a time when their own security was not guaranteed, especially after Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake had been arrested and allegedly tortured.
Saturday Monitor gathers that most of the forms were picked up from houses of agents around Mr Kyagulanyi’s strongholds, especially in Kampala and Wakiso districts, while others were picked up from western districts, Namisindwa District and Manafwa District in the eastern part of the country.
The lawyers decided to concentrate on securing Mr Kyagulanyi’s freedom from house arrest before they embarked on gathering evidence reportedly aiming to file a petition challenging the results for presidential elections, which the musician-turned-politician rejected from the onset.
Mr Ssenyonyi on Wednesday told Saturday Monitor in an interview for this story said that more than 4,000 results declaration forms were being kept at the headquarters of the police’s Crime Intelligence Directorate (CID) in Bukoto, Kampala, and their attempt to retrieve them were futile.
“When we went to get the forms, the police told us they had been picked up from agents who did not have appointment letters. We have been wondering why that becomes a police matter and whether it culminates in taking the forms.
We are still gathering these because we still have the option of going to court,” Mr Ssenyonyi said in an interview.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga on Thursday told this newspaper that the CID had been holding some results declaration forms for the NUP candidate but had since given them back to the party lawyers.
“The lawyers led by Mr Katana came and we gave them the DR forms and we are at the moment not holding onto any forms. It is not true that we are still in possession of the forms that we impounded,” Mr Enanga said in a telephone interview on Thursday.
A source close to NUP on Thursday told this newspaper that the leaders had been called in the middle of Wednesday night to go and pick up the forms but only received less than half of what they expected.
“The most contentious forms from Wakiso District and other central region districts were not handed over because these are many and most contentious. The DR forms that were retrieved are the ones from the western districts,” the source said.
In his latest address four days ago, Mr Kyagulanyi avoided the question of whether he was considering going to court, although he had hinted earlier that he was determined to petition the High Court over the election results.
Multiple sources told Saturday Monitor that the outgoing Kyadondo East legislator was not keeping his eyes off the possibility of filing a petition.
A source said: “Bobi Wine says if he goes to court, he will want to expose the Judiciary and their double standards. He is also aware that the court would not rule against President Museveni, who is their employer.”
The question of petitioning the Supreme Court over presidential elections is contentious within the ranks of the Opposition. Dr Kizza Besigye first petitioned the court over the matter in 2001 after an election that was riddled with violence and which he alleged had been grossly rigged.
The court agreed with Dr Besigye’s petition in most parts, noting that irregularities like intimidation, ballot stuffing and others had occurred, but the judges disagreed on whether the irregularities that were proved substantially affected the results. Two judges ruled to annul the election, while three who chose to uphold it carried the day.
Dr Besigye returned to the same court in 2006 and the case unfolded in pretty the same way as the one of 2001, this time with three judges ruling in his favour, while four upheld the election.
After the court decision, Dr Besigye vowed not to return to the court over what he calls rigged elections, saying the court had been given two chances to prove its relevance and the judges had failed to step up to the occasion.
He warned that subsequent shows of displeasure about elections could play out in different ways, and after the 2011 elections, he did not return to the court but led disruptive protests that paralysed Kampala and other towns for months.
Although former prime minister Amama Mbabazi returned to the Supreme Court after the 2016 elections, he was largely seen as a peripheral candidate and not really the main Opposition figure, with Dr Besigye – who had come second to President Museveni – locked up at his home.
The overriding view within the Opposition was against petitioning the courts, and it is a view which still holds sway, although there appears to be a possibility that Mr Kyagulanyi will petition the court.
Asked how they intend to proceed, Mr Ssenyonyi said: “We continue to struggle to see that leadership is changed in this country, and this does not matter whichever way it comes.
We shall use all means, including the courts even though we know they work for the incumbent. But we shall make sure the voice of the people is heard after they overwhelmingly voted for Mr Kyagulanyi and the Electoral Commission (EC) decided to announce Mr Tibuhaburwa as winner.”
On Thursday, EC chairperson Simon Byabakama released the final results of the presidential elections after more than a fortnight. In the final figures, President Museveni’s percentage stands at 58.38 per cent with 6,042898 votes. Mr Kyagulanyi’s scored 35.08 per cent after polling 3,631,437 votes.
Mr Kyagulanyi’s party disputes the results, saying their scores in different areas were falsified and results declaration forms confiscated to prevent them from proving their case should they petitioned the courts.
The accusation of confiscating results declaration forms has been levelled against State operatives and security personnel for years.
After the 2016 elections, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, which Dr Besigye had represented as the candidate, accused the police of raiding their headquarters in Najjanankumbi in Kampala and confiscating election results declaration forms.
Asked why the police had picked up the forms from NUP agents yet they are not mandated to handle electoral processes, Mr Enanga said they had acted on the intelligence of some people who were planning to sabotage the election process.
“Around Wandegeya and Kinoni in particular, there was a hotel that we received intelligence information that there were many people with DR forms and they had formed a parallel tally centre and were planning to announce Mr Kyagulanyi [as winner]. We could not accept this to happen so we had to swing into action because it is against the law,” he said.
“You also know that there are CSOs (civil society organisations) and other international bodies which have come up to say they want to see that they rally people into illegal demonstrations across the country which would destabilise the security and that is why we had to act,” he added.
Mr John Baptist Nambeshe, the NUP deputy president in charge of the eastern region, said DR forms from more than 277 polling stations had been confiscated by the security officers in his area, but was also quick to retort that the available forms are enough to pin the government in court.
“We have not slept, they switched off the Internet but we remained working, we have video clips, pictures of ballot stuffing and pre-ticked ballot papers. We are not doing anything other than making sure we have enough evidence in court because in-as-much as it may not deliver the expected ruling, we shall give it a try,” Mr Nambeshe told Saturday Monitor on Wednesday.