KAMPALA- Immigration officials at Entebbe International Airport on Sunday stopped outspoken Makerere university researcher, Dr Stella Nyanzi, from leaving the country allegedly on police orders.
Mr Jacob Siminyu, the spokesperson of the Internal Affairs ministry under which the Immigration directorate falls, said they received instructions from police’s Criminal Investigations Directorate to prevent Dr Nyanzi from travelling because she has a case to answer.
Detectives on March 7, 2017 questioned Dr Stella over her acerbic facebook posts in which she attacked both President Museveni and First Lady Janet for allegedly running down Uganda. Police did not prefer any immediate charges against her or announce their next course of action.
“At Entebbe Airport, on my way to University of Amsterdam for an academic conference entitled 'Dissident Desires - Africa/ Asia: Critical Comparative Analyses on Gender and Sexuality,” Dr Nyanzi wrote on her facebook shortly after an Immigration officer informed her that her name was on a blacklist.
The female Immigration officer, she noted, conducted another female colleague before making a telephone call to their supervisor. Later, three police officers said the police officer who interviewed her a week ago communicated that she could not be allowed to leave the country.
Both her passport and boarding passes were confiscated, she said, before being escorted out of the airport.
Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Emilian Kayima said on Thursday that the academic’s botched trip arose from a “miscommunication between the Police and Immigrations”. There was no need to stop her, he said, from travelling because “she is free to travel”.
“I have just spoken to her (Dr Nyanzi),” said Spokesman Kayima, “I asked her to talk to the airline, Kenya Airways (KQ) to see if they can book her on the next flight because she was perplexed that her passport and tickets had to be confiscated.”
When contacted, Dr Nyanzi said she could not understand why she had to be held back or blacklisted from traveling abroad.
“I am a poor woman who cannot afford to top up the air ticket because my flight was booked by Amsterdam University who paid for the ticket for an international conference where I was supposed to be a keynote speaker this (Sunday) afternoon,” she said by telephone. She said security officials at Entebbe International Airport treated her shabbily and shoved her out of the facility like a “criminal”.