By Spy Uganda
Kampala: City journalist Ronald Nahabwe, a reporter with The Capital Times website, is finally out of police coolers after being released on Thursday evening, following days of detention at Kireka based Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
Nahabwe was arrested on Monday June 22, 2020 by CID police detectives led by Acting Commissioner of Police CP) Mugumya, who is in Charge of Media Crimes at Kibuli.
He was released on police bond on Thursday evening after the intervention of his lawyers Lillian Drabbo, Isaac Ssemakadde, who were joined by Agness Nandutu and Robert Ssempala of HRNJ-U, Uganda Human Rights Commission and Andrew Irumba Katusabe, who is President Independent Online Journalists Association (INDOJA-U). Ronald was ordered to report back to police on June 29th, 2020 without fail.
The police bond on which he was released reads in part thus; “I Ronald Nahabwe, being charged with the offence of Unauthorised Disclosure Of Information under case file No. CID Headquarters 489/2020 and after, required to appear before the Acting CP Media Crimes at CID Headquarters do hereby bind myself to appear at CID Headquarters on the 29th day of June 2020…..”
However, what shocked the media fraternity is that Nahabwe was purportedly charged with the offence of ‘Unauthorised Disclosure of Information,’ yet there is no such crime in Uganda and no one has ever been charged for the same.
Many journalists have since regarded this as a direct attack on the Fourth Estate and one of police’s measures to further gag the media from exposing the evils being committed by some unscrupulous and corrupt people in government offices.
“How can you change someone who is not your staff with ‘unauthorized disclosure of information?” one lawyer commented.
His lawyer, Lilian Drabbo described the charges as ‘a joke’. “That’s one of the jokes Police has pulled again,” she said on phone.
By the time of the police bond, his lawyers Lillian Drabbo and Isaac Ssemakade, through Makindye court had sought a court order to compel police to release Ronald unconditionally or produce him before a competent court.
It should be noted that Nahabawe was arrested over allegations that he published stories about the financial scandals involving some officials at the Rural Electrification Agency and a letter Archbishop Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga wrote to President Yoweri Museveni complaining about shrewd city lawyers who had conned billions of church money.
Nahabwe’s release came after the media fraternity in Uganda and his lawyers put the police on pressure to either free him from detention or parade him in a competent court of law and charge him, if he had committed any offence.
The journalists had given police an ultimatum of a day, threatening drastic measures if their colleague was not released by end of business Thursday.
It should be noted that Ronald’s co-worker Hannington Mbabazi had been arrested and detained at Kyengera and Kibuli over Rural Electrification Agency (REA) stories three weeks prior to Ronald’s arrest on Monday.