Police close two radio stations in Jinja, arrest journalists over election results

By Human Rights Network for Journalists- Uganda 

NEWS RELEASE | 22 January 2020

Mutoigo Richard, Baba Fm journalist in Jinja was arrested by police at Jinja Senior Secondary School Tally Centre on 21 January 2021. Mutoigo is detained at Nalufenya Police Station on allegations of inciting violence.

“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, the Baba Fm station manager through an interview by HRNJ-Uganda.

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. 

Kanyere told HRNJ-Uganda that he received a tip from one of the voters at Police Wing polling station in Walukuba to the effect that ballot papers had been delivered in a black polythene bag contrary to the normal practice of delivering ballot papers in a sealed ballot box. Kanyere added that when he reached the said polling station, he found a standoff between National Unity Platform (NUP) supporters and officials from the Electoral Commission.

The NUP supporters were accusing the Electoral Commission officials of ballot stuffing. As soon as he started covering the standoff, he was ordered by the OC Station Walukuba police station to stop filming which he did not heed to arguing that he had been accredited to cover elections. 

The OC station alongside other officers allegedly beat up Hakim, tore his shirt and destroyed his camera in the process. He was thereafter arrested and taken to Walukuba police station where he was detained for thirty minutes and released without charge.

On the same day, Kaddu William Nyanzi, a Prime Radio correspondent in Mityana district, was allegedly assaulted by army officers while returning from covering mayoral and local council elections in different parts of the district. He told HRNJ-Uganda that he found a Uganda National Roads Authority vehicle carrying army officers at around 9:00pm at Kiyudaya in Mityana district. They blocked the road and asked him where he was going during curfew time. His explanation that he is a journalist fell on deaf ears. They allegedly pounced on him and started beating him randomly. Nyanzi sustained injuries behind the right ear, forehead above the left eye, right thigh, and left ribs.

Meanwhile, Busoga One FM Radio based in Jinja remains closed since 14th January 2021. While speaking to HRNJ-Uganda, the station manager Mr. Anyole Innocent 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 to the effect that they were 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

Lastly, Baba Fm Radio in Jinja was shut down on 21st January 2021 at about 5:30 pm on allegations of inciting violence. This was after one of its reporters Mutoigo Richard was arrested earlier in the morning.

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

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Image by Tom Andernach from Pixabay

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