Lumbuye’s arrest worries govt critics in diaspora

Thursday August 05 2021
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Turkish-based Ugandan blogger, Fred Lumbuye. PHOTO/ COURTESY

By Andrew Bagala

The news of the reported arrest of Fred Kajjubi, alias Lumbuye, over unclear offences in Turkey has sent shock waves among social media critics in the diaspora.

Lumbuye is a critic who uses his social media accounts to attack and criticise government officials in Uganda.
 Some of his statements are termed by Ugandan security officials as crimes against the state. 

Since the news of Lumbuye’s arrest, Ugandans in the diaspora have rallied their colleagues to petition Turkish government and United Nations to block any likely extradition of Lumbuye to Uganda. 

Foreign Affairs State Minister Oryem Okello said he had just heard about the arrest of Lumbuye but hadn’t confirmed it. 

“If he is arrested because of a crime he committed, he deserves to be arrested. Anybody who commits a crime in any country should pay the price for breaking the law,” Mr Oryem said at the Uganda Media Centre yesterday. 

Mr Oryem said Lumbuye isn’t a special person and therefore he isn’t above the law.

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Several Ugandans in Turkey say Lumbuye was arrested by Turkish police officers dressed in uniform of anti-narcotics authorities. 

However, Uganda has no known cases that were submitted to Interpol seeking his extradition.

According to Interpol processes, the country seeking extradition of the suspect said to be abroad must first seek a court order in their country and then apply for Interpol’s help to find the accused. Interpol Constitution, however, doesn’t respond to offences that are political in nature.   

Article 3 of the Interpol Constitution strictly forbids Interpol to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.

Last month, President Museveni asked security agencies to deal with Ugandans in foreign countries, who post fake news on social media that dents his image and that of the country.

“I need to check with them to locate one who tells such a story because you waste people’s time. We should go for you. We should locate you where you are and go for you. And if you are in Europe, we denounce you,” President Museveni said at the swearing-in of the ministers, who missed the main event after their aides tested positive for Covid-19. 

President Museveni had been declared dead on social media. 

“Another problem we need to solve, I don’t think it is a security problem, it is an idiotic problem…. The social media has apparently been saying that Museveni is dead. Now, the other day when I went to the side of Bombo to lay a foundation stone, people were looking [out for me] because they had been told by social media that Museveni is dead,” President Museveni said. 

Several Ugandans have been arrested and prosecuted by police on allegations of offensive communication. 
However, security agencies have encountered challenges on how to deal with critical Ugandans abroad. 
Security agencies have been waiting for them at the airport and arresting them upon return.

In September 2018, Mr Kato Kajubi, a son of late Prof William Ssenteza Kajubi, a former vice chancellor of Makerere University, was arrested at Entebbe International Airport as he returned from the USA. Police accused him and others still at large of offensive communication and tarnishing the image of  government abroad by holding protests in the USA against the Constitution amendment to remove the presidential age limits. 

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