The lawyers representing President Museveni in the presidential election petition filed by former presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine, have vowed to go after the music-turned-politician l to pay them costs if he withdraws the petition.
Bobi Wine petitioned the Supreme Court seeking the annulment of the January 14 presidential election won by the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni.
However, Bobi Wine has threatened to withdraw the case alleging that three of the nine Supreme Court Justices hearing his petition, including the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo are not impartial.
The other two Justices include; former Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mike Chibita and Justice Ezekiel Muhanguzi.
Bobi Wine first threatened to withdraw the case after the panel of 9 Justices of the Supreme Court dismissed his application seeking to amend the petition to bring new evidence.
The former presidential candidate said that he would withdraw the case, and take the matter to the “Court of public opinion.”
This week on Thursday, the Supreme Court, in a ruling of 8:1 Justices again dismissed Bobi Wine application in which he sought to bring more affidavits.
Speaking to reporters at the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Secretariat in Kampala on Sunday, the NRM Director of Legal, Oscar Kihika said withdrawing a presidential petition is not as casual as Bobi Wine thinks.
“Well, it’s his decision. However, I need to inform you that the withdraw of the case of this nature, particularly, the Presidential election petition is not just withdrawn casually. There is a process. The law provides the manner in which this withdraw has to happen,” said Kihika.
“So, I hope his lawyers are advising him about this action of his, because to withdraw the petition, there is specific provisions of Presidential Elections Rules which say that withdraw number one, you need permission of the court. In order to do so, you need to file an application which has got to be supported by an affidavit,” he added.
The application, Kihika said, then has to be served to all the respondents, and then the petitioner heads back to Court to argue this application.
“So, his casual remarks, if they are true (because we are just hearing this in air) he should realize that it’s not a simple thing,” he said.
Kihika added that the petitioner has to convince Court with reasons why the case should be withdrawn.
Once, the Court has given the petitioner, the permission to withdraw the case, Kihika said, “the law is very clear. Court gives you permission to withdraw the case, then Court shall charge the party for withdrawing the petition with costs. And that the person who has filed this petition shall defray the costs of the respondents.”
“So, there are two issues here. There are the first costs of petition, then there is defray of costs (the amount of money it has taken you to respond to this petition). These amounts are not small. So, this decision has got to be taken not lightly,” Kihika said.
“You can be rest assured; as lawyers for the respondents, we shall go after Hon Kyagulanyi for the costs if he chooses to take that course (withdraw the petition.) That is for sure,” he added.
FILING AFFIDAVITS IN RESPONSE
Kihika said that he and his legal team have filed 188 Affidavits in response.
By the evening of Sunday February 14, when Bobi Wine was supposed to have submitted his Affidavits to the Court, Kihika said that the lawyers for respondents had been served with 53 Affidavits that had been filed by Bobi Wine.
“We then embarked immediately on preparing our affidavits in response.”
However, on Wednesday, Bobi Wine filed an application for extension of time to file more affidavits, which the Supreme Court in a ruling of 8:1 Justices dismissed on Thursday.
The application, Kihika said, diverted the lawyers of respondents.
Kihika added that after the Court dismissed the application, the respondents’ lawyers had continued preparing their Affidavits in responses.
“I am glad to state that by past midnight of Friday, we were ready for filing, and therefore we were able to file our affidavits yesterday (Saturday),” he said.
The team led by Museveni’s other lawyer, Enoch Barata submitted the Affidavits to court.
“So, we successfully filed all our Affidavits in response (188 affidavits),” Kihika said.
The respondents now have up to Monday to file affidavits in rejoinder.
Affidavits in rejoinder means that if there is anything new evidence that the respondents have not introduced in their Affidavits in response, they are given an opportunity to bring it.
“So far, I can say that for us, things are moving well. We have done our very best.”
Additional reporting by Busein Samilu