West Budama North MP survives ejection from House 

A religious leader prays for West Budama North MP, Maximus Ochai (kneeling) after High Court in Mbale District dismissed and lection petition challenging his victory on December 2, 2022. PHOTO/YAHUDU KITUNZI  

What you need to know:

  • Mr Okoth (Ind) petitioned court accusing Ochai of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) of voter bribery and rigging, among others. He had asked court to nullify Ochai’s victory, arguing that the Electoral Commission (EC) who were also listed as respondents in the petition did not do anything to ensure the voting process was free and fair.

West Budama North (Tororo District) MP, Maximus Ochai breathed a sigh of relief after the High Court in Mbale District for second time on Friday dismissed an election petition filed by his predecessor Richard Othieno Okoth citing lack of sufficient evidence.

Mr Okoth (Ind) petitioned court accusing Ochai of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) of voter bribery and rigging, among others. He had asked court to nullify Ochai’s victory, arguing that the Electoral Commission (EC) who were also listed as respondents in the petition did not do anything to ensure the voting process was free and fair.
Last year, Mbale high Court passed the same judgment but Mr Othieno petitioned Court of appeal which referred the case back to High Court for retrial.

In his ruling, Justice Moses Kazibwe Kawumi, dismissed the petition with costs on grounds that the evidence presented to court was “unsatisfactory” and not sufficient enough to warrantee nullification of the vote result.
“I found it strange that all accusations of election malpractices were from an area where the 1st respondent (Ochai) allegedly had great support. Nothing amiss was reported in the area where the petitioner (Okoth) appears to have had support,” he ruled, arguing that courts of law act on human evidence adduced in court.

“It would be difficult for a court to believe that supporters of one candidate behaved in a saintly manner while those of the other candidate were all servants of the devil. All in all, I have failed to find cogent evidence of the kind which is free from contradictions, truthful and compelling to the satisfaction of the court that merits the setting aside of the election of the 1st respondent as the directly-elected Member of Parliament for West Budama County North constituency. The petition is dismissed,” he ruled.
 
Mr Ronald Sekandi Gonza, one of the Ochai’s lawyers said this is the second time the case being dismissed. 
“He (Okoth) lost the election and petitioned the court. We heard a case in Mbale Court and judgment was delivered on October 22, 2021 and the petition was dismissed with costs. Dissatisfied with the judgment, Mr Okoth petitioned Court of Appeal. The Court of appeal set aside the judgment of the High Court and ordered for a retrial, so we were sent back to Mbale but assigned a different judge. But still the petition has been dismissed,” he said. 
Mr Ochai told this publication shortly after the judgment that the petition had no ground. 
“The petition was not sustainable. All the witnesses of the petition didn’t have credible evidence. The petition was blackmail,” Mr Ochai said. 
 
Electoral Commission declared Ochai as the winner of the 2021 parliamentary elections after he garnered 10,981 votes against his closest contender, Mr Okoth who got 9,856 votes.
Other contestants included; Gloria Akichere Oburu (Ind) who garnered 175 votes, David Alira Pechokisika Opii (PPP) got 278 votes, George Aluka  (Democratic Party) who garnered 24 votes, Peter Okello  Jabwel (Ind) who garnered 784 votes and Okongo Leo (FDC) who got 85 votes.

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