By John Ogulei
The High Court in Soroti has today’s morning 26th November ruled against the curbing of both Arapai Town Council and parts of Amen Town Council from Soroti West Constituency.
The decision to remove the two town councils from Soroti West and add them to Soroti East Constituency was taken by the Local Government’s Ministry.
In today’s ruling, Judge Wilson Musalu Musene of the High Court said the decision was erroneous.
In a case filed against the electoral commission on the 18th September 2020 by Enyau Michael, Onanyang Robert, Erienju Stephen, Ejelu Patrick and Omoding Brian, the complainants claimed that, the decision to curb Arapai Town Council and parts on Amen Town Council wasn’t fair and most of them were not consulted.
The complaints further alleged that, the above places were erroneously curbed by Ministry of Local government to serve the interests of individual politicians.
The biggest causality of the ruling is the incumbent Member of Parliament for Soroti City, Edmund Ariko who is now fighting to represent Soroti East Constituency in the next Parliament.
Ariko is said to have majority of his relatives as registered voters in Aloet which is found in Arapai Town Council. The decision to move Arapai Town Council back to Soroti West means Ariko has lost all those votes.
“Ariko has over 5,000 of his relatives registered in Aloet as voters. The man is in tears with this court ruling because he is already minus 5000 votes going into next year’s national general elections,” said a seasoned elder in Soroti City who did not want to be named.
Ariko is facing stiff challenge from FDC’s Moses Attan Okia and NRM’s Jimmy Ekemu.
Earlier, the electoral commission lawyers headed by Paul Wateka in their rejoinder claimed they did not demarcate any boundaries but acted on the orders of the Local Government Ministry.
“We didn’t demarcate any boundary but what we only did was to follow the map that was given to us by the local Government Ministry concerning the boundaries,” said Wateka.
The EC lawyers also claimed that, the High court didn’t have jurisdiction to query the power of the electoral commission to determine electoral boundaries.
But, the judge in his ruling said the high court had powers to handle the matter saying the high court has power to handle both civil and criminal matters.
Paul Menya, the lawyer representing the complainants told this reporter that court had made a decision that has sealed the original boundaries as outlined by the council.
“The alteration by the minister has been rejected and all the administrative units that had been taken to Soroti city east by local government ministry have been taken back to Soroti West. So if anybody has been gunning for votes in the places of Aloet, Teso College, Arapai, Opiyai and Orwadai sorry for him/her,” Counsel Menya bragged after the ruling.
He said that, unless there is an appeal by the electoral commission over the boundaries the position of the court will remain and the original boundaries will remain the way court has ruled.
Whereas recently the Minister for Local Government Raphael Magezi during a phone interview with our reporter clearly said that the Soroti City boundaries were altered for good service delivery, Judge Wilson Musalu Musene in his ruling argued that the alteration was not for the public good.