The Court of Appeal in Kampala has dismissed an election petition filed by the former Dodoth East Constituency Legislator, Samson Lokeris against his rival, Emmanuel Komol. The three-member panel of Court of Appeal Justices comprising Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Oscar Kihika, and Christopher Gashirabake dismissed the appeal on Tuesday citing failure to comply with the court orders requiring Lokeris to file conferencing notes despite issuing the directives on March 28th, May 16th, and on June 21st 2023.
Despite pleas by Lydia Nakyejjwe, who was holding brief for Counsel Caleb Alaka who had earlier filed a notice to withdraw from the conduct of the matter, the Justices said that under the Court of Appeal rules, a lawyer cannot just leave his client without seeking leave/permission from the court to allow the client get another lawyer. The justices noted that the evidence on the court record indicates that Alaka and Company Advocates are still Lokeri’s lawyers.
In response, Nakyejjwe attempted to make an oral application but the Justices informed her that they anticipated it but couldn’t grant it, saying they had been given enough time and on three occasions but they didn’t comply. The Justices informed Lokeris that his case file was in a bad state and asked him what they should do for him. In his reply, Lokeris says that he was surprised by the notice of withdrawal saying he lives in Karamoja and gave money for conferencing and the like, which he doesn’t know how they happening since he is not a lawyer.
He asked for about two weeks to get another lawyer but the Justices informed him that this was an election matter that ought to be handled expeditiously since it involved issues of governance, which explains why there are always special sessions to handle election disputes. They dismissed his request saying that they sympathized with him but their hands were tight because they wouldn’t conduct another special session for election cases.
The Court directed each party to bear its own costs. Roger Mugabi and Evans Ochieng, who represented the respondents welcomed the court decision. The head of Ligitation in the Electoral Commission Eric Sabiiti represented the election body. Komol decried the time spent on this case, saying that it was his first time to come to Parliament but he has spent three years in litigation and has been sued before the Court five times where had to defend himself. This is the second time that this case has come before the Court of Appeal.
This legal battle started in 2021 when the Electoral Commission declared Komol the winner of the Dodoth East Parliamentary elections after obtaining 7,903 votes while Komol garnered 7,892 votes. Dissatisfied with the results, Lokeris petitioned the Soroti High Court seeking to set aside the election results on the grounds that there was non-compliance with the electoral laws and principles which affected the final results in a substantial manner.