Uganda: Journalist Accuses MP Otto of Assault

Gulu — A journalist working for a local radio station in Gulu Municipality has accused the Aruu County Member of Parliament Samuel Odonga Otto of assaulting him and inflicting body injuries.

Mr Geoffrey Okot, 29, attached to Choice FM alleged that Mr Otto punched him at the back of his neck on Sunday while covering the FUFA drum tournament between West Nile and Acholi Provinces.

"I was among some journalists squatting on the touch line to cover the tournament on Sunday. The game had not yet even started when I felt a sudden punch on the back of my neck, I knelt down on my knees but when I rose up to find out who had punched me and for what reason, he beat me up again," Mr Okot told Daily Monitor in an interview on Tuesday.

"He told me I had no contribution to the game that was to start and threatened me but his fellow legislators stopped him while telling him the person he punched is a journalist," Mr Okot added.

Mr Okot said an X-ray conducted at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital revealed the punch caused a neck strain.

"I am feeling a lot of pain on my neck, the doctors however told me it will slowly heal. I am still on sick leave and will be away from work in the meantime," He said.

However, when contacted, Mr Otto denied the allegation of assaulting Okot stating that he didn't even know the victim in the first place.

"I don't know him, I have never met him. I cannot assault someone I have never seen," Mr Otto said.

"What happened on that day is that FUFA drum tournament delayed because the crowd were almost entering the pitch, so me and other fellow legislators were called to help in crowd management, we were like bouncers and helped to clear the crowd from the touchline," he said, adding that the allegation of assault is rather coming in bad faith.

Mr Okot has since filed a case of assault by Otto at the Gulu Central Police station.

Mr Robert Ssempala, the Executive Director of Human Rights Network for Journalists [HRNJ] Uganda in a statement condemned the 'act by the legislator' and called on police to expeditiously handle the matter.

'It is so disheartening that an area MP who is expected to be exemplary to the people he leads beat up a journalist. We condemn such actions in the strongest terms. We implore the Uganda Police to expeditiously handle the matter so that the journalist gets justice," said Mr Ssempala.

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