Candidates nominated on the National Unity Party (NUP) ticket can, for now, take a breather after the High Court in Kampala on Wednesday dismissed a case challenging the party’s registration and change of name from National Unity Reconciliation and Development Party (NURP).
Justice Musa Ssekaana, has also ordered former NURP founding President Mr Moses Kibalama Nkonge and Secretary-general Mr Paul Ssimbwa Kagombe to pay costs to NUP leader and Kyadondo East legislator Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine and five others for unlawfully dragging them to court.
Justice Ssekaana invoked his powers to add Mr Kibalama and Mr Kagombe as applicants in the case having backtracked on their affidavit in evidence before the court as they failed to recover the $5 million they were promised.
The judge also held that applicants ought to have applied for judicial review within three months after the change of name of the party from NURP to NUP, that is to say by June 6, 2019 but instead filed the application on August 24, 2020 after over one year.
“This application was made with a view of making some money during the election season and the applicants have no genuine grievance but rather want to be relevant and make some quick cash,” the judge held.
“The court is empowered to refuse relief and deny access to the judicial review reliefs on the ground of laches because of several considerations, for example, it is not desirable to allow stale claims to be canvassed before the court; there should be finality to ligation,” Mr Ssekaana added.
Mr Kyagulanyi’s leadership of the party came under scrutiny when two of its founders, Mr Difas Basile and Mr Hassan Twala petitioned the High Court saying that Mr Kibalama, the founding president of the party, changed its name and transferred its leadership to Mr Kyagulanyi and his group without their knowledge and consent.
Mr Bobi Wine was jointly sued with the Electoral Commission (EC), Attorney General (AG), National Unity Reconciliation and Development Party (NURP) acting president Kibalama, National Unity Platform Party (NUP) leaders David Lewis Rubongoya, Aisha Kabanda, Joel Ssenyonyi, Flavia Kalule Nabagabe, Fred Nyanzi Ssentamu and Paul Ssimbwa Kagombe.
The petitioners claimed that NURP was gazetted as a political party in Uganda on December 13, 2004, and issued a certificate of registration on December 28, 2004.
They further stated that in 2019, without any right and in breach of the party constitution, Mr Kibalama, and the Electoral Commission illegally changed its party name to NUP and on July 14, 2020 handed over its leadership to Mr Kyagulanyi and Mr Kagombe.