Big Story-Ssegirinya Belongs to Prison, Not Parliament – Kidandala

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Former Parliamentary candidate Sulaiman Kidandala not only wants the court to declare that Muhammad Ssegirinya was not validly elected but also to find him guilty of committing electoral offences.

In his petition filed before the High Court in Kampala, Kidandala who was the runner up in an election that attracted nine other candidates, says Ssegirinya’s nomination papers were invalid because he did not have the requisite academic qualifications to contest for a parliamentary seat. 

The law requires all persons contesting for a parliamentary seat to have A-level or its equivalent. But according to Kidandala’s petition, the O’level and A’level academic documents that Ssegirinya presented to the Electoral Commission were forged, which constitutes a crime under the Parliamentary Election Act.

According to the Act, a person who forges… or delivers to the Returning Officer any document knowing it to be forged commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 120 currency points (2.4 million Shillings) or imprisonment not exceeding five years or both. If Kidandala is able to prove that Ssegirinya forged academic papers he faces a possibility of spending the next five years not in parliament but in prison. 

Kidandala also alleges that Ssegirinya’s nomination was not accompanied by the names and signatures of a minimum of ten persons who are registered voters in the Kawempe North constituency, as required by the law. Worse still, the petition alleges, Ssegirinya’s nomination paper was not signed and countersigned in accordance with the Parliamentary Elections Act. 

The petition further says that Ssegirinya was never a registered voter of Kawempe North or anywhere in Uganda.  This was because, by the time he officially changed his name from Richard to Muhammad Ssegirinya, the Electoral Commission had already finished updating the voter register.  According to documents filed in support of the petition, Ssegirinya gazetted his deed poll to change his name on October 13, 2020, one year after the closure of the update of the voter register. 

“Contrary to section 79 of the Parliamentary Elections Act, as amended, the 1st respondent, not being a registered voter, committed the electoral offence of personation when he voted in the election of 14 January 2021,” the petition reads.   

Ssegirinya defeated nine other candidates when he scored 41,197 votes against his closest challenger Kidandala who had 7,512 votes. The Principal Judge is yet to allocate files to judges who will hear and determine the cases. According to the law, the Court has up to six months to hear and dispose of all election petitions.       

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