By Sania Babirye
Kampala high court Judge Musa Sekana has dismissed an application filed by Kampala Lord mayor Erias Lukwago which was challenging the ECs decision to ban campaigning in the alleged 13 districts strongly hit by COVID-19 including Kampala.
Justice Sekana has ruled that although EC’s decision to suspend campaigns in Kampala and other districts is a violation of freedoms of expression, assemble and association, but the limitation of enjoyment of those freedoms is demonstrably justifiable due to the prevailing COVID-19 infections in those areas.
Justice Musa Sekana has further stated that there was no breach to a fair hearing on Lukwago’s side since EC did not sit as a tribunal and that there was justification for dispensing with the right to be heard due to the urgency and emergency in order to stop the spread of corona virus.
In the said petition, Lukwago was seeking orders to overturn the Electoral commission decision to suspend campaign meetings in the said districts.
Through his law firm of Lukwago and company advocates, Lukwago claimed that the EC’s decision contained in a press statement of 26th of December waa irrational and an infringement on his rights to associate , interface and convince the electorate to vote him for the 3rd time in the office of the Lord mayor .
He further claimed that as a candidate and the political head of the city, EC did not give him a fair hearing before issuing the said ban depriving him of his right to disseminate their ideas to citizens , which is a fundamental component of a free and fair election.
Lukwago said that the advise given by the EC that candidates should campaign through media outlets (radios and TVs) in the contentious districts was not tenable since government had not taken any measures to ensure that Radio or Television sets were distributed among citizens despite a huge budget to purchase them being allocated by parliament during the last quarter .
Lukwago then asked the High court to quash EC’s decision and issue an injunctive order stopping the Inspector General of police who was directed to ensure that no campaign meeting occurs in Kampala , Masaka, Luweero, Mbarara , Kasese, Wakiso , Jinja , Kalungu , Kazo and Tororo from implementing the same.
He also wanted court to order EC to pay him general damages for the inconvenience as his campaign schedules have been disrupted by this decision.