Several journalists were Friday evening left nursing injuries inflicted on them by police during a standoff with presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine that lasted several hours after blocking him from accessing his campaign venue in Alebtong District.
The journalists include, Mr Moses Waisswa of Busoga one FM who was fighting for his life by the time of filing this story, Mr Batte Ssesanga of BBS Terefayina, Mr John Cliff Wamala of NTV and Mr David Tamale of Bukede TV. Jonathan Tusingwire and Richard Kalema of Ghetto media were also left nursing serious injuries.
Some of the journalists were rushed to hospital in critical condition but police did not explain why the journalists had been targeted in the standoff that lasted more than seven hours with the National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate who was blocked from accessing the northern Uganda district.
"We were working and showed them all our identification cards and documents but then they continued beating us as we tried to record events during the standoff. We need police to understand that we are doing our work just as much as they are doing theirs," Mr Wamala told this reporter.
The development comes just days after, Mr David Lubowa, another journalist on the Kyadondo East MP campaign trail sustained an injury from a teargas canister hurled at him by a police officer as they dispersed Bobi Wine supporters in Jinja district on December 6, 2020.
On November 18, 2020 Ghetto TV journalist, Ashiraf Kasirye was left unconscious after being pepper sprayed by police officers during Mr Kyagulanyi's arrest in Luuka District.
The arrest sparked off riots in Kampala and other parts of the country leaving 54 people dead as soldiers and police tried to contain the situation.
It’s not yet clear why journalists on the pop star’s campaign trail have become the latest target of security operatives.
However, the Friday assault happened hours after security agencies warned that lawlessness and hooliganism under the guise of political activity as the country has witnessed on a number of occasions shall not be accepted and shall be dealt with firmly and decisively.
Addressing the media on Friday, the heads of security warned that "violations perpetrated through social media and other abuses orchestrated through irresponsible traditional media are unacceptable in a free and democratic society and will also be dealt with according to the laws of the country."
The Inspector-General of Police Okoth Ochola who was flanked by the Chief of Defence Forces Gen David Muhoozi, Commissioner General of Prisons Johnson Byabashaija and Ambassador Joseph Ocwet the Director-General of External Security Organisation also noted that they had commenced investigations into the deaths that occurred during the November riots following the arrest of Mr Kyagulanyi in Luuka.
Earlier, Mr Kyagulanyi said: “The Military and Police have yet again blocked us amidst a swamp on our way to Alebtong, no one is talking to us and we are blocked in front and from behind. As for now, we cannot know what their plans are. This is the third time the police is blocking us today. The whole world is watching all this injustice and someday, all those that are responsible for these criminal acts will be held accountable individually.”
Police in the wee hours of Saturday morning tweeted saying the NUP candidate had been escorted from Lira where he had no campaign schedule, to Kitgum enroute to Lamwo District, where he is scheduled for Campaigns.