AGONY OF FACTS: Journalist Grilled Over Shs70b Nurses’ & Midwives Lunch Allowance Story

By Our Reporter

KAMPALA Uganda- SHIFTMEDIA-  The hazards of the media profession struck a top Ugandan Investigative Journalist on Monday August 23 2021.

Patrick Jaramogi, the Investigative Editor with Shift Media News, an online Investigative news site was summoned to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters in Kibuli on Monday.

Detectives revealed how Jaramogi  a Thomson Reuters Foundation (UK), Institute for the Advancement of Journalists (IAJ) South Africa and Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA)  trained Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) Journalist was trailed for months.

Apparently he had authored an article in Shift Media on May 6 2021 where he unearthed how the 18,000 nurses and midwives in Uganda were due to strike over their lunch allowances.

The nurses who were earning shs 3,000 ($0.8) as lunch allowances were promised an increase of shs15,000 ($4.2) by President Museveni during the 2020 presidential campaigns.

The total pledge rose to Ugx70b ($198,000) that the President directed that it’s released. The nurses planned to lay their tools after a report leaked that Shs70b meant for their lunch as directed by H.E the President wasn’t implemented. (NB. A total of shs49.6bn was later released after the story)

Detectives revealed that when the story leaked it rattled feathers among top Ministry of Health Officials, especially Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng.

In strong missive to the Director CID, AIGP Grace Akullo by Health Permanent  Secretary Dr. Diana Atwine dated May 14 2021, Atwine demanded that Jaramogi Patrick be investigated and prosecuted.

The detectives then swung into action. As pressure piled, the detectives mounted further tracking and tracing amidst the COVID 19 Lockdown.

When the Journalist appeared at the Cyber Crime Department in Kibuli he was immediately detained.

ASP Bill Dickson Nyamahuka the AG Commissioner Media Crimes personally grilled Jaramogi Patrick for hours.

“As soon as I entered his office around 11am he (Bill) was too tough. He had ordered two detectives to trace for me that day dead or alive,” said Jaramogi.

He said following a tip off from detectives that he was being hunted, he decided to take himself to CID HQs.

“Much as ASP Bill was furious, he later calmed down after I told him I had personally brought myself,”he said.

Jaramogi who has worked in Daily Monitor, New Vision,  The Investigator, among others was later detained until 4pm when he recorded a statement.

“Around 6.30pm they asked me to call a surety to stand in for me or I be Lodged in Kabalagala Police station,” he explained.

He said he immediately asked for a phone from one of the detectives to call his wife. At this time he was already disarmed of his phones rendering communication impossible.

“I was released a few minutes past 7pm. The way I reached home is a story for another day,” he said.

The police bond issued required that he reports back the following day August 24 2021 at 10am.

“At this point close detectives said I should

Patrick Jaramogi (l) accompanied by a detective walks out of CID HQs in Kibuli.

prepare to appear in court the next day,” he said.

He said the night seemed so short since he had to make frantic calls to lawyers and Human Rights Activists.

“The biggest hurdle was accessing contacts which were all in the confiscated phones,” he told our Reporter.

Despite the early morning drizzle, he said he made it in time to CID HQs.

“I was ready for court and prison. I knew the time had come, but I remained strong and faithful in prayer,” he said.

After another hours of grilling, he was charged with offensive communication and Libel.  According to detectives, he had defamed Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng.

Around 4.30pm he was cautioned and released  on police bond.

Present were a number of media personalities, lawyers and Human Rights Activists.

Other Journalist jailed

Patrick Jaramogi is not the only journalist  facing persecution. Robert Sempala the Executive Director Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ) said the actions of police is to sway journalists from reporting on Government Accountability and funds usage. “The incarceration is intended to sway media scrutiny over  management of public funds,” said Robert Sempala at CID HQs.

According to Stephen Ouma Bwire the General Secretary Uganda Media Union, last month the Drone Media Editor Pidson Kareire and Editor Darious Magara were detained for three weeks in Kitalya prison on charges of Offensive Communication and criminal libel.

They were charged after Dott Services Limited complained of the reports that said the company is inable or lacked capacity to effectively construct roads in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The journalists were released on July 18, 2021 , a day after Uganda and DR Congo Presidents H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and H.E Felix Tshisekedi, respectively commissioned the road construction in Congo .
During the same month Freelance journalist Andrew Nyapidi, survived narrowly spending a weekend in Kitalya prison after he was accused by Rubaga Division Physical Planning officer of defaming her.

When Andrew reported to CID offices he was amazed when he was hurriedly produced in court and bundled on the caged Prisons bus ready for remand. It necessitated last minute intervention with “Orders from above” for court to “rescind” decision, and security officers had to call back Kitalya – bound Prisons bus to “offload” Journalist Andrew Nyapidi , who is said to have been framed by the KCCA administrator.

Ouma notes that Journalists especially online media practitioners must be careful because police is now under instructions to clamp down on online publishers.

Shift Media News

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