By Mable Nakibuuka
Human rights activists in Uganda have revealed that hundreds, if not thousands of Ugandans said to be supporters of National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine are languishing in various prisons across the country, several days after the January 14th presidential election.
According to Eron Kiiza, a renowned human rights lawyer in Kampala, the people currently being suffering in jails across the country include journalists, NUP politicians and other Bobi Wine supporters, many of who were either arrested during his campaign trail while others were abducted by the military from their respective homes.
Kiiza reveals that besides singer Ali Bukenya aka Nubian Li, Bobi Wine’s bodyguard Eddie Ssebuufu aka Eddie plus others who are detained at Makindye Military Police barracks, many others are reportedly detained at Kasijjagirwa barracks in Masaka District and other military facilities across the country.
However, in Busoga region it is worse, because several journalists and other Bobi Wine supporters there have been jailed too, under deplorable conditions.
Prominent among those who were arrested a few days ago is comedian Hakim Ibanda famously known as Swengere, who is a journalist with Baba FM, plus Pastor Andrew Muwanguzi, of True Worship Centre church in Jinja, who is a staunch Bobi Wine supporter.
Several other journalists have also been assaulted and arrested by police while executing their duties by reporting about the electoral process.
For instance, Richard Mutoigo, a journalist with Baba FM in Jinja, was arrested by police at Jinja Senior Secondary School Tally Centre on 21 January 2021, detained at Nalufenya Police Station on allegations of inciting violence, where he was tortured for hours.
“He was our official reporter at the tally centre. When he started giving us live updates about what was happening, police arrested him. Am not sure of the charges brought against him, but we are trying to secure his release and we will update you accordingly,” said Aggrey Irongo.
And on 20 January 2021 during the mayoral elections, Kanyere Hakim an NBS TV correspondent in Jinja City was assaulted by the Officer in Charge of Walukuba police station as he tried to report about a case of ballot stuffing at Police Wing polling station in Walukuba, where ballot papers had been delivered in a black polythene bag instead of a sealed ballot box.
Meanwhile, Busoga One FM Radio based in Jinja remains closed since January 14th, 2021.
While speaking to the Human Rights Network for Journalist (HRNJ-Uganda), the station manager Mr. Innocent Anyole, said that on the aforementioned day, they were broadcasting provisional results for presidential and parliamentary elections from different parts of the country only to receive a call from the Kiira region police spokesperson Hajji Abbey Ngako, who accused them of inciting violence.
Then at about 6:30 pm, police stormed the radio station. It is claimed that the radio was switched off by the Regional Police Commander Mr. Hiriga Dauda.
Baba FM Radio in Jinja was also shut down on January 21st, 2021 at about 5:30Pm, over allegations of inciting violence.
The Regional Police Spokesperson for Kiira Region, Abbey Ngako, told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda that the radio stations were shut down for inciting violence.
“We always have problems of inciting members of the community by the media. Busoga One FM was shut down for inciting violence and announcing preliminary results. We got orders from the Deputy Inspector General of Police… he sent a representative who shut down the radio. Another was shut down yesterday by Uganda Communications Commission over the same issue,” Ngako told HRNJ-Uganda