Uganda: TV Presenter Narrates Arrest Ordeal By CID

A television presenter, who was arrested in connection to video clips in which he accused the government of promoting nepotism, has narrated his three-day ordeal with security agents.

Mr Abbey Ssewakiryanga, alias Basajja Mivule, who works with Baba TV in Kampala, was arrested last Monday, a day before he was supposed to present himself to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

"They surrounded the building with heavy guns. I told my colleagues that I will cooperate with them because I knew if I didn't, they were going to use excessive force on me," Mr Ssewakiryanga said yesterday.

Mr Ssewakiryanga was picked up by three detectives from the building.

He said they drove him to the CID headquarters at Kibuli and produced him before detectives in charge of political and media offences.

"They then played a video clip in which I talked about the Minister of ICT, Ms Judith Nabakooba, and they said the statement was offensive against her. Later, they played one in which I rallied Baganda to rise up and they said it was promotion of sectarianism. I told them it wasn't bad to tell a group of people to work hard," Mr Ssewakiryanga said.

He said they asked him why he named top government officials who hail from western Uganda.

"I told them it was a fact that the majority of top military officers were from western Uganda... . I asked them to tell me why there were few or no top commanders of other tribes in the military leadership," Mr Ssewakiryanga said.

The interrogation lasted for more than two hours before he was taken to his home for a search before he was driven back to CID headquarters.

"The officers told me I was to spend a night in a safe house. I started saying my prayers because of the stories I had heard about those places. Surprisingly, I was taken to the Special Investigations Division in Kireka where I was detained for two nights," Mr Ssewakiryanga said.

He said he was offered a mattress, a blanket in a cell that had flashing toilets. "They didn't beat me. We were around 22 suspects in the cell. At night, I asked other suspects whether they had not been beaten to which they denied. The situation there was different from what we hear about it.," Mr Ssewakiryanga said.

On Wednesday, he was driven back to Kibuli where he was given bond. He is supposed to report at CID headquarters this week.

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