Going nowhere. The Kween District chief maintains that he cannot be removed from office unless Court of Appeal determines his case.
The Ministry of Local Government has directed that the Kween District chairperson, Mr Lawrence Mangusho, immediately leaves office, following a court ruling in August last year that he lacked academic qualifications to hold the post.
In a January 5 letter addressed to the district Chief Administrative Officer, Mr Anthony Lukwago, and signed by Mr Patrick K. Mutabwire, the acting Permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government, the CAO was asked to advise the district boss to vacate office.
“As you are aware, the election of the chairperson LC5 Kween District was nullified and his seat declared vacant… You should, therefore, advise the chairperson to vacate office and hand over to the vice chairperson,” the letter read in part.
The letter bases its directive on a ruling by Court of Appeal of an election petition case of Peter Odok W’Ochieng versus Vicent Markly Okidi and others, which signifies that a district chairperson who is removed from office should vacate and cannot rely on Section 95(3) of the Parliamentary Election Act to remain in office.
The Parliamentary Election Act stipulates that a person shall not leave office until the appeal case is disposed of or withdrawn.
The CAO yesterday told this newspaper that he fulfilled the ministry’s directive and supplied the district boss with the letter.
“Mine was to advise the chairperson which I did. I will write back to the ministry later on the situation on ground,” Mr Lukwago said, adding that he has not seen Mr Mangusho in office for the past two weeks. He, however, emphasised that the district chief has not left office.
But speaking to this newspaper, Mr Mangusho dismissed the letter, saying after losing the case, he appealed against the ruling, which he termed as ‘irregular’ and the case is yet to be heard and determined.
“Mr Mutabwire is serving personal interests. I cannot be removed by mere advice. It is only the Court of Appeal that can remove me from office,” Mr Mangusho said, adding that it is legal for leaders to stay in office as long as the appeal case is not dismissed.
The Ministry of Local Government Public Relations Officer, Mr John Musade, confirmed to Daily Monitor that the ministry had authored such a document.
He said the ministry’s directive relies on the mentioned Court of Appeal ruling.
Ruling of case
High Court in Mbale, presided over by Justice Margaret Oguli-Oumo, who has been suspended over alleged mishandling and hoarding of cases, ruled that Mr Mangusho did not have the qualifications to hold office.
The court ruling came after Mr Nelson Chelimo, a contestant for the Kween District top seat in the February 18, 2011 general election, filed a case against Mr Mangusho, claiming the latter lacked academic qualifications.
Mr Mangusho won the poll with more than 8,000 votes.
Hearing of the appeal case is slated for January 13.