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Tanzania: Jailed MP Won’t Lose Seat, Say Lawyers

Kilombero Member of Parliament Peter Lijualikali has been sentenced to six months in jail after he was found guilty of attacking policemen early last year.

Lawyers, however, said that Lijualikali will not lose his seat due to the ruling because it does not exceed six months.

The court also handed a six-month suspended sentence to lawmaker’s driver Stephano Mgata, who was also charged with a similar offence.

The ruling was delivered by Kilombero District Magistrate Timothy Lyon yesterday.

Reading the charges against Lijualikali and his driver, State Attorney Doto Ngimbwa said the two committed the offence on March 1, 2016 at Kilombero District Council headquarters at Kibaoni in Ifakara Town.

Mr Ngimbwa said further that the two caused a commotion at the council headquarters, which disrupted the election of Kilombero District Council chairman.

According to Mr Ngimbwa, by attacking policemen the accused contravened Chapter 16 and Section 89 (b) of the penal code which were amended in 2002.

Delivering the ruling, Magistrate Lyon said after going through evidence presented by both sides, the court found the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Mr Lyon said the court handed Lijualikali a six-month jail term because he was previously convicted of the same offences.

Mr Lyon said Lijualikali was convicted in case number 338 of 2014, case number 220 of 2014 and case number 340 of 2014.

In each of the previous cases Mr Lyon said Lijualikali was handed the six-month suspended sentence.

“After going through Lijualikali’s record, the court decided to hand him a six-month jail term because it is not the first time that he committed and was convicted of such offences,” said Mr Lyon. The magistrate added that the court handed the second accused the six-month suspended sentence because it was his first time to commit such an offence.

Unlike in previous proceedings, the situation at the court was calm as very few people turned up.
Chadema regional secretary Samuel Kitwika said they weren’t satisfied with the ruling and that they would appeal against it.

Ms Devotha Minja (Special Seat-Chadema) claimed that the court issued the ruling due to what she termed as influence from ‘the above’.

After the court ruling, Lijualikali was taken under tight security to Idete Prison. Reached for a comment, a lawyer from Rutabingwa and Co Advocates, Mr Thomas Brash, said according to the Constitution of 1977, Lijualikali has not lost his parliamentary seat due to the ruling.

According to him, someone loses the right to continue to be a Member of Parliament if he/she is sentenced to serve a jail term of more than six months.

Section 67 (1) and Section 71(l) (a) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania Constitution states that a person will cease to be a Member of Parliament if he is convicted and sentenced for a period of more than six months.

Alleastafrica and The Citizen

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