Uganda: Nyanzi Facebook Post Was Crafted in Vulgarity - Police Detective

Ugandan activist Stella Nyanzi and President Yoweri Museveni.

The presentation of an impolite poem allegedly written to insult the person of the president, calmed tension, as the trial of Researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi kicked off at Buganda Road Court on Wednesday.

The poem was posted on Stella Nyanzi's Facebook page on September 16, 2018, the day on which President Museveni celebrated his 74th birthday. It was crafted in vulgarity targeted at the President's late mother Esteeri Kokundeka and repeatedly wishing that Museveni should have died at the time of his birth.

Ms Nyanzi is accused of offensive communication and cyber harassment both contrary to sections of the Penal Code Act. According to the Prosecution, such statements disturbed the peace, quiet or right of privacy of President Museveni.

Assistant Superintendent of Police, Bill Ndyamuhaki, the first witness in the stand, opted to read the poem when Prosecutor Janat Kitimbo asked him to explain how offensive the poem was to the President. He stated that the use of words such as vaginas, smelly and creamy pussy, were too offensive to any sound person.

The mood in the court presided over by Grade one Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu drastically changed from tense, as Ndyamuhaki read the poem word per word, amid laughter from spectators.

Mr Ndamuhaki stated that he became Stella Nyanzi's follower on Facebook in 2017 when he was assigned by the Director of Criminal Investigations to investigate Nyanzi's case. He said that when he opened the Facebook page, he was able to identify one account with an indecent write-up.

"I searched Dr Nyanzi's Facebook account, I found that words in her post of September 16, 2018, were offensive and crude in nature because they were expressed in a sexual way," Mr Ndyamuhaki testified.

Mr Ndyamuhaki further explained that he looked at the phone number used to activate the account and found out that it was an MTN number whose digits ended with 17.

Mr Ndyamuhaki, who was trained in cybercrime investigation by America's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), told the court that the account on which the poem was posted was activated using an email '[email protected]'. He says he probed the email and found out that the number that created that email account was tallying with the one on the Facebook account.

Mr Ndyamuhaki says that he later secured a court order to establish the name under which the said number was registered. He found out that it was in the names of Nyanzi Stella.

The prosecutor presented before the court the activation codes used to create Stella Nyanzi's Facebook account, the documents showing the number that activated the Facebook account and the passport Nyanzi reportedly used to apply for that particular phone number from MTN.

But Nyanzi's lawyer Isaac Semakadde protested that the exhibits were never disclosed to the defence team. The case was adjourned to April, 9 to allow the prosecution to share the said documents for the trial to proceed meaningfully.

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