Nsambu, MP Namayanja's Supporters Clash in Court

2084 Views Masaka, Uganda

In short
Nsambu and MP Namayanja's supporters exchange blows in Masaka High Court.

Justice Elizabeth Musoke has been forced to suspend hearing of an election petition for some minutes, after clashes erupted inside Masaka High Court corridors between rival supporters of Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja and her rival, John Alintuma Nsambu.

It is not clear what sparked off the fight but it happened moments after Justice Musoke had just started hearing the petition in which former ICT State Minister Alintuma Nsambu is challenging MP Namayanja's election for alleged fraud.

Nsambu alleges that Namayanja bribed Tugume Mugisha, the former Masaka returning officer to declare her the winner in the parliamentary elections.

Today, Francis Mugula, one of the lead petitioners was set to reappear to continue with cross examination on bribery allegations against Namayanja, when fist fights erupted between rival supporters.

Eyewitnesses say that the fight was sparked off by arguments between rival supporters with each side claiming their candidate won the election. Witnesses claim that MP Namayanja's supporters bragged about having already won the case on grounds that Francis Mugula, one of the lead petitioners, who was cross examined on Wednesday had told a lot of lies. This sparked off a bitter verbal exchange.

Masaka High Court corridor was reduced to a battlefield until anti-riot police who had been deployed, intervened and dispersed rival supporters.

One person, who identified himself as Ronald Ssebuwufu, was injured when Namayanja's supporters allegedly boxed him and trampled upon him.

He says he was just making his way into the courtroom when rowdy supporters started hitting him on the head. Ssebuwufu says he belongs to neither of the two camps but he was shocked to see people beating him up accusing him of wasting their time in court.

It took about 15 minutes for police to restore order. Medard Lubega, Namayanja's lawyer told Justice Musoke after the fracas that the fight was prompted by Nsambu's supporters who feared cross examination. Lubega claimed that following last evening's intensive cross examination of Francis Mugula, the supporters wanted to cause chaos to force court to adjourn the hearing.

But Patrick Yehangane, Alintuma Nsambu's lawyer rubbished Lubega's claims as baseless. He shot up and instead accused MP Namayanja's supporters of orchestrating the violence. Yehangane told court that right from the campaigns, MP Namayanja's supporters have been behaving like hooligans. Yehangane also asked Justice Musoke to evict Namayanja's supporters for violence.

Justice Musoke declined but warned to arrest and prosecute any one who dares disrupt court again. She explained that since police had intervened and quelled the fights, it was okay for the supporters to stay provided they remained quiet.
By press time, court had resumed and several witnesses were expected to be cross examined. But Alintuma Nsambu was absent.

Earlier this week, Justice Owiny Dolo was also forced to evict over 200 supporters of Kalungu West MP Vincent Ssempijja and his rival, Umar Lule Mayiya from court for starring violence.