Uganda: Journalists Receive Threatening Calls to Back Off Bobi Wine Stories

Ugandan MP Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine appeared in a military court in Gulu. Those charges were dropped, but he was rearrested and then appeared in a civil court.

Journalists covering the stories on the beating, imprisonment and detention of MPs Bobi Wine and Francis Zaake have said they have been threatened and ordered to stop writing the stories or else get ready to face the consequences.

Bobi Wine (real name Robert Kyagulanyi) and Mr Zaake were arrested (with 30 other people including MPs and journalists) following the chaos that engulfed Arua town on Monday August 13, 2018 and the subsequent death of Bobi Wine's driver Yasin Kawuma.

Their whereabouts have been confusing until last Friday when MP Zaake resurfaced at Lubaga hospital after security operatives reportedly 'dumped' him at the health facility. Bobi Wine is currently being detained at Makindye Military Barracks.

But now some of the Daily Monitor journalists say they have started receiving threatening phone calls from people purporting to be security operatives.

Journalists who covered the fracas on the last day of the Arua Municipality by-election campaigns and those who remained in the newsroom to author stories on the same have been receiving intimidating calls to back off Bobi Wine stories.

Mr Franklin Draku, a Daily Monitor journalist, received a strange phone call at his home on Saturday, the same day he had just returned from covering the Arua by-election. The caller demanded he hands over photos and videos of the fracas before they sedated him in his room the same night.

"Shortly after, a lady, who identified herself as Zafra, called, demanding the same. She told me 'we know where you are and we shall get you'. I put my phone off and after about five minutes, I became dizzy and in this state, I remember a lady wearing a white short dress opening the door," Mr Draku narrated.

"She [the woman] put on the light and went straight for my safari bag and started emptying the contents. At this point, I was unable to move and even talk. I eventually lost consciousness. I only woke up on Sunday at around 5pm. On checking around, I discovered my Nikon camera, a Dell laptop, an I-pad, a Tecno tab, power bank, identity card, phone and laptop chargers, and cash worth Shs373,000 missing," he added.

On Monday afternoon, as Mr Derrick Wandera, another Daily Monitor journalist, covered the press briefing by MP Kyagulanyi's relatives about the latter's arrest, he received a call from an anonymous person who threatened him with death.

"We know you are hardly 26 and you are getting involved in these issues of the State. Please back off Bobi Wine's story if you can. I am not sure you can explain the stories you are writing, for example this one in today's Daily Monitor [Bobi Wine sustained injuries, says Barbie]. We are watching you. You are too young to die," the voice on the other side warned.

The police spokesperson, Mr Emilian Kayima, said he had not been briefed about any formal complaint registered by any journalist.

He said they can only punish the responsible officers when there is evidence adduced. But Mr Draku registered a formal complaint at Kira Road Police Station, [reference No.: SD REF: 32/19/08/018].

"The problem with journalists is that they make complaints in media but never make formal complaints to police. We can only punish the offenders when someone has made a formal complaint," Mr Kayima said yesterday.

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