Lumbuye faces 15 charges in Uganda, not in police custody, says Enanga

Turkey-based Ugandan blogger and government critic, Mr Fred Lumbuye. PHOTO/ COURTESY 

Turkey-based Ugandan blogger and government critic, Mr Fred Lumbuye is being investigated on 15 different case files by Ugandan authorities following his arrest in Turkey last week, police have said.

The charges, according to police spokesperson, Mr Fred Enanga, include spreading harmful propaganda, inciting the public to protest by sharing videos on his platform, among other cyber related crimes.

Mr Enanga told journalists in Kampala on Monday that although Mr Lumbuye is not yet in their custody, they have the files ready as soon as he’s handed over to them.

“Until he’s handed over to the police we shall come up with a statement indicating details of the allegations against him, the status of the investigations against him, among others. So that’s where our boundary is. Whether he’s in the country or not yet in the country our interest as police is that once he is handed over to the police we shall process him along these 15 case files that we have opened against him. I want us to be very clear with that,” Mr Enanga said.

Asked on Mr Lumbuye’s whereabouts, Mr Enanga said “If he’s not in our hands, how do you expect us to come out and tell the public where he is? The police is a very respected institution and we’re going to wait until he’s handed over to us,” Mr Enanga added as he addressed journalist during the weekly police press briefing.

Killing president Museveni on social media

Mr Lumbuye is suspected of being the mastermind behind the rumours that President Museveni, 76, had died after contracting Covid-19.

Lumbuye had also previously announced that the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, was dead.

Just after taking oath of office following Uganda’s January general election, Mr Museveni embarked on tasks to stem the spread of coronavirus, as his main challenger, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine, flew out of the country.


Kyagulanyi’s supporters took to social media to keep the man they hoped to be president relevant in the public sphere. And the one thing that seemed to rub President Museveni the wrong way was the announcement that he had died, a rumour that circulated on social media in June and July this year.

Rumour also had it that following Museveni’s death, Ugandan soldiers were preparing for the possible takeover before they announce the president’s successor. The rumours continued even when President Museveni appeared in public at Munyonyo and Bombo in the company Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto for the launch of a biochemical factory.

Following Lumbuye’s arrest, a section of the media quoted a security source saying, “He (Lumbuye) has been tracked for some time, and he was finally arrested. Lumbuye had several players behind him. It is time for truth-telling and for him to reveal whoever was involved in feeding him with falsehoods to cause acrimony.”

Social media misuse

His arrest comes weeks after Mr Museveni tasked security forces on June 8 to urgently step up and hunt all social media users who declare prominent Ugandans dead.

“Social media has been saying that Museveni is dead. They [Security service] should locate very quickly the one who tells such a story. Security service should solve that problem. I need to check with them [security service] so that we go for you. If you’re in Europe, we denounce you and say go to hell because you are wasting people’s time,” Mr Museveni said after a section of social media users and bloggers announced him dead.

The President said there was a need to crack down on people who misuse social media, including Ugandans living abroad. He added that many of them are now using online platforms to spread baseless and tasteless news.

Apart from Museveni, some people had also posted on social media that some members of the First Family too had died.

Lumbuye, a radical supporter of Kyagulanyi, is accused of peddling falsehoods against the government of Uganda during and after elections, which the government says affected the country’s image internationally.

Reports state that Lumbuye was picked up by security agents as he returned to his residence on Tuesday evening in Turkey. But his colleagues claimed that he was arrested by the Ugandan embassy in Turkey as he tried to renew his passport.