Police summon journalists over Central Bank stories

What you need to know:

  • File. Police say a general inquiry file was opened after a complaint was lodged at CID Kibuli, although they did not name the complainant.

Kampala. Five editors of online publications are to appear at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID) today to record statements on charges of criminal libel and offensive communication after they allegedly published photographs of buildings and bank accounts allegedly belonging to the Bank of Uganda deputy governor.
Three online editors were released on Friday on police bond after their mobile phone handsets were confiscated. Two others; Mr Richard Wanambwa of Eagle Online and Mr John Njoroge, formerly editor of CEO Magazine, failed to show up at police last Friday.
Those who turned up included Spy Reports co-proprietor, Mr Raymond Wamala, and the publication’s former editor, Mr Bob Atwine, alongside Mr Andrew Irumba, who runs Spy Uganda.
CID spokesman Vincent Ssekatte said detectives recorded statements from the three editors last Friday and their phones were confiscated to help them with the investigations.
“The offences the detectives are investigating involve computer misuse and there is need to know how they did it. We suspect that they used their mobile phones. We shall hand the phones back when done with the investigations,” Mr Ssekatte said.
It is alleged that between October 2018 and January 2019, the five online publishers published photographs of property they claimed to be owned by the deputy governor, Mr Louis Kasekende.
They also published money transfers they alleged to have been done by Mr Kasekende, allegations he has consistently denied.
The alleged leaks followed the sale of Crane Bank to dfcu Bank. Investigators suspect that the journalists were being used by owners of the defunct Crane Bank to tarnish the image of Mr Kasekende.
Mr Ssekatte said a general inquiry file was opened after a complaint was lodged at CID Kibuli. Police declined to name the complaint.
Last year, at least seven journalists were summoned by CID over similar offences when they published alleged bank details of Ms Justine Bagyenda, the former Bank of Uganda executive director for banks supervision.
Section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act, 2011, provides that: “Any person who wilfully and repeatedly uses electronic communication to disturb or attempts to disturb the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person with no purpose of legitimate communication whether or not a conversation ensues commits a misdemeanour and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty four currency points or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both”.
Twenty-four currency points is an equivalent of Shs480,000.
Libel under Section 179 of the Penal Code Act on the other hand is an offence where “any person who, by print, writing, painting, effigy or by any means otherwise than solely by gestures, spoken words or other sounds, unlawfully publishes any defamatory matter concerning another person, with intent to defame that other person, commits the misdemeanour termed libel.”