By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: Broadcasters under their umbrella organization, National Association Of Broadcasters (NAB) have protested against the continuous raid of media houses by state security operatives in total disregard of the laws governing the independence of the fourth estate in Uganda.
On Thursday this week, security operatives arrested National Unity Platform (NUP) Secretary-General David Lewis Robongoya as he left NBS TV after attending ‘The Frontline’, a political talk show.
Rubongoya was a panelists alongside others political honchos including DP president Nobert Mao, Salaam Musumba (FDC), NRM mouth piece Ofwono Opondo commonly known as OO, Odonga Otto (Aruu County MP) and Electoral Commission’s Ag Spokesperson, Paul Bukenya, and discussed a number of topical issues surrounding Uganda’s political landscape, including the forthcoming general elections.
Lewis was reportedly whisked away together with his personal camera-man, known as Lookman to Kira road police station. According to Lewis, when they arrived at the police he was told that he was arrested because he was donning a beret similar to that of security yet he is a civilian. He was however later released on police bond, although his camera man spent the night in the coolers after allegedly being severely beaten by the same security personnel, according to Rubongoya.
The raid has since prompted NAB to write to the chief military intelligence(CMI) and the security minister to show their dissatisfaction on how security operatives are invading media premises illegally, making their premises a ‘hunting ground’, hence seeking to meet with security chiefs to address the matter before it escalates out of hand.
According to the letter dated October, 23, 2020 seen by Spy Uganda, NAB also shows great concern after their earlier letter addressed to the Ministry of internal affairs and police over similar incident when security operatives ‘harvested’ presidential hopeful Charlese Rwomushana from the same show yielded no fruits. “The letter could have ended up in the ministry’s dustbin,” one NAB member posted on the Association’s WhatsApp group.
”We make a cross-reference to our letter to the Ministry of Internal Affairs dated 31, August 2020 Ref: NAB/MIA/2020 requesting for a meeting to address among others, the Security operations within media premises, but our request has never been accorded the due attention that it deserves,” partially reads the letter signed by NAB secretary General Joseph Beyanga.
“As you are aware, these operations are still continuing until this date. In a democratic society, media houses are supposed to be and are perceived by the public as a safe haven for freedom of expression and association, above all, a hub of public opinion, regardless of the divergent political affiliations and associations, but to the contrary, these arrests within our media premises may enable the public to perceive the media houses as otherwise,” further cries toothless Beyanga in his emotional letter to CMI boss.
This becomes the third time within 2020 that NBS TV premises have been surrounded by security agencies and made arrests. In April 21, security operatives waylaid and arrested news anchor Samson Kasumba as he left the station back home after his 9pm news bulletin. In July, no-nonsense security operatives raided the station again, after Barometer, a political talk show and ‘harvested’ political pundit and social commentator Charles Rwomushana, while ‘cowards’ Betty Nambooze Bakireke (Mukono MP), Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality MP) and Kampala Central MP aspirant Fred Nyanzi were forced to spend the night in the station’s sofas in order to evade the arrest.
Political commentators have often accused police and its sister security organizations of ‘selective’ application of POMA Act and COVID-19 presidential directives meant to curve the spread of the same, although police has always insisted they’re doing their job in the most humanely possible way. We keep Watching the space…..