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Police close two radios in Jinja arrests journalists over election results

Jinja, 22nd / January/2020; Busoga One FM Radio based in Jinja remains closed since 14th January 2021 when it was closed down by police over alleged incitement to violence when they broadcasted provisional results for the presidential and parliamentary elections.

Busoga One FM Station Manager Mr. Anyole Innocent told HRNJ-Uganda that on 14th Jan, 2021, while broadcasting provisional results for Presidential and Parliamentary elections from different parts of the country, they received a call from the Kiira region police ASP Spokesperson Hajji Abbey Ngako to the effect that they were inciting violence. Moments later, at about 6:30pm, police stormed the radio station and switched it off arbitrarily. It is claimed that the radio was switched off by the Regional Police Commander Mr. Hiriga Dauda. Police has since maintained a heavy security deployment at the station.

The media house belongs to an opposition politician, Paul Mwiru, the outgoing Member of Parliament for Bugiri County in Busoga, Eastern Uganda

Another media house, Baba FM Radio in Jinja was shut down on 21st January 2021 at about 5:30pm on similar allegations of inciting violence. Baba FM is owned by Moses Balyeku, the Member of Parliament for Jinja City South West. He is a member of the ruling NRM party.

The shutdown was after one of its reporter Mutoigo Richard was arrested earlier in the morning by police at Jinja Senior Secondary School Tally Centre. He is being detained at Nalufenya Police Station on allegations of inciting violence.

Baba FM Station Manager said Mutoigo was on official duty, “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.” Baba FM Station Manager, Aggrey Irongo told HRNJ-Uganda.

The Regional Police Spokesperson for Kiira Region Abbey Ngako told HRNJ-Uganda that the radio stations were shut down for inciting violence, but did not explain the content deemed inciteful. “We always have problems of inciting members of the community by the media. Busoga 1 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 on Thursday by Uganda Communications Commission over the same issue,” Ngako told HRNJ-Uganda

Journalists in Busoga have stormed the Police Station at Nalufenya demanding for the unconditional release of the journalists, since they committed no crime by reporting elections, just like any other media houses in the country. Police has released the journalists from their cells.

Meanwhile, on 20th 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. 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, despite having been accredited to cover elections. The OC station alongside other officers allegedly beat up Hakim, tore his shirt and his camera was destroyed in the process. He was thereafter arrested and taken to Walukuba police station where he was detained for nearly an hour before he was 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 within the district. He told HRNJ-Uganda that he found a Uganda National Roads Authority vehicle carrying army officers at around 9:00 pm 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.

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