“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?”
That is Matthew 7: 16.
I find this a verse I should quote to clear the air about the callous, indiscreet, foolhardy but rather expected nature in which a blogger has sought to malign and discredit the name of my person, that of Sam, Kahill and my employer NTV among others.
On the 28th of May, a Saturday, at around midday, I came to learn that my friend Sam Tusiime had been arrested and detained by a section of people in the police.
Benjamin texted me asking me to confirm whether Sam had been arrested. I quickly worked the lines with my friends in CPS and couldn’t immediately register the arrest because he had not been written down in the register where all suspects must be written before being detained or questioned.
So I asked him to check again. He checked and insisted that Sam was in detention.
I called a high-rank officer who mans the station and he said he had not registered anyone with that name – which was true, because the people who arrested Sam, a section of ‘officers’, had chosen to detain him in room number 84 without charge and/or informing his next of kin, a requirement of the law.
From between 12pm – 5:35pm, we worked the lines amongst police officers to determine what offense it is that Sam had committed and sought legal counsel.
To our dismay (be it joy), Sam had no offence he had committed.
When we asked him about what questioning line had been deployed on him, he told us that they had asked him about T-shirts bearing a portrait of Kizza Besigye and how he had acquired them.
I could have started tweeting at 12;04pm when I first learnt of it but I didn’t because I don’t believe in circumventing justice. I held back all we had gotten until I had rang 4 police commissioners, 7 police commanders and regular force to establish the true facts of the matter. All officers confirmed that no investigation into the matter had been sanctioned and that no arrests had been ordered that they know of.
Without any possible charge in the penal code that could possibly be brought against Sam, I advised Benjamin to check on him and see to his health as I got in touch with lawyer friends.
While Benjamin was at the station, Sam and a friend were bundled into a waiting blue corolla with plate registration UAL 027H, a personal car not sanctioned to do police work. Benjamin, who was at the station was stopped from following the car – which raised even more suspicion. The men who detained Sam wore no uniform and refused to identify themselves to Benjamin and infact sought to arrest him too. Together with this, they issued various threats of additional torture.
Unlike what “Anisha” seeks to describe in her blog that we are not ‘peace loving’ citizens, we hadn’t up until that moment, with all the information we had gathered and the glaring inconsistences, tweeted about the process.
My circle of friends and I vowed to ourselves, about 4 years ago, that we would fight impunity whenever we saw it – in real life and in institutions (private or government) – which is why we choose which bars we shall not go to, which companies we shall not buy from and which people we shall not relate with. We call this ‘fighting the small battles we can win’.
We had seen this before when one of us, Danny, was arrested at Naggalama and purported to be charged with terrorism with the only available evidence as a black polythene bag of chapattis he had carried to visit a friend detained on political charges.
A year down the road, the charges had shifted from ‘terrorism’ to disobedience of police orders and had crumbled in a court of law after the key state witness, a police officer failed to show up to testify to them.
The magistrate dismissed the case a day to Danny’s birthday, as if to grant him and us an early entry into celebration.
Again, it is false, as alleged by “Anisha” that we sought to discredit the force because we had heard their side of the story and in various tweets, we referred to a ‘section’ of the force as having carried out the arrest and protracted detention of Sam and two others.
Even when we had heard first hand accounts of the beating of our friend with a baton and slapping him, we insisted in tweets that this would be subject to proof by evidence and testimony in court.
By the time of the release of the three people who had been arrested; Sam had spent a combined total of 74 hours in detention, Muyinda, 99hours and Asia Nanyanzi another 102 hours. All these, far beyond the constitutional guaranteed time of detention without charge of 48 hours.
To the irregularities in Sam’s arrest;
“Anisha” alleges that police had received intelligence that there were planned mass demonstrations that Sam would be at the centre of, distributing T-shirts. (LOL)
‘She/he’ further alleges that Vintage creations, a company run by Asia, was contracted to print T-shirts for the said protests.
First of all, for my non-Ugandan audience, it is not illegal to demonstrate in Uganda neither is it illegal to print T-shirts, even those bearing a face of an opposition leader.
That said, let me delve into it.
At about 20 hours into Sam’s detention, police spokesperson Enanga released a statement in which he detailed the arrest, he mentioned that Sam was planning to distribute the 120 T-shirts for a protest on Friday the 28th of May 2016 in Jinja and that police had recovered them.
The statement, on little analysis, showed many glaring contradictions.
The 28th of May was a Saturday not a Friday as the police spokesperson’s calendar had alleged. The search warrant signed by 6 officers who searched Sam’s house found only four T-shirts and not 120 as mentioned. Even the 120 figure sounded cooked up as Enanga had admitted almost 7 hours before authoring the statement that only four T-shirts had been recovered from Sam’s home.
Vintage creations, the company “Anisha” alleges was contracted has no written or word of mouth contract to print T-shirts for the purpose of a demonstration. Infact, Vintage creations had designed a T-shirt for Sam and when he donned it, many people demanded that he makes more for them, which he did, which they printed.
They are a company, they pay their taxes and they transact business, which is legally sanctioned.
No demonstration has since occurred in Jinja to effect this story. Not that it would be illegal too.
“Anisha” with the above fallacious claims not tallying up sought to discredit my person saying and I quote:
“My other observation is that the FDC online propagandists continue to use a clique member and NTV “journalist” Raymond Mujuni (@QatahaRaymond) to continue pushing their police and Government institutions blackmail propaganda on social media especially twitter.
To you my readers who might not know this Raymond, he has a very rich and interesting history in the recent past. During the recently concluded presidential and parliamentary elections, he was under question by his NTV bosses over issues of ethics as he could hardly distinguish his professional work from his political attachment then.
It was from his unprofessional conduct and the fear of conflict and bias that had cropped at NTV that he (Raymond) had to be sent to Nation Media Kenya to first get the basics of journalism”.
I’ll not slay her on the fact that she couldn’t get my handle right, most people with vitriol to spill never do.
I must state and categorically clear that I have never come under any question on my ethics, much to the contrary, my newsroom believes in my ethics so much. I declare my conflict of interest as early as I see it.
I belong to no political party and neither do I subscribe to the idea of them.
I do have a set of principles I live by. I detest injustice, I shame it when I see it and I trade in my profession as an investigative journalist, with a repute of professional awards, national and international, to show for my work.
Now you must understand, by “Anisha’s” claim, I am in Kenya because my employer found my conduct unprofessional. Judging by this claim, my employer must be the most gracious and caring you’d ever find to not fire you for an offence as grave as that and much more transfer you to their Headquarters!
I can’t deny I am in Kenya. My employer sent me here to join a selected group of 10 journalists from Africa who would sit at the heart of its future in journalism.
I couldn’t have been more delighted and honored.
In my short span here, I have met Christiane Amanpour’s producer, a winner of seven Emmy awards, I’ve met Mathenge, the CNN Africa journalist of the year for his photography on the Westgate attack. I continue to talk to my close mentor John Allan Namu, a winner of CNN awards and EastAfrica’s best investigative journalist. I file stories for Daily Nation, the best selling newspaper in Sub-Saharan Africa, I report for NTV Kenya, the mother brand of our Ugandan one. I write for the EastAfrican, the region’s most authoritative paper.
In three days of every week, I meet the best of their trade from the world and I don’t take this investment of the company into their future lightly.
“Anisha” sought to bring the matter of my tweets on the Sam issue, which falls out of my profession and into my personal life to the attention of my bosses.
An inquiry was conducted and in under 3 hours I was convicted of having followed our social media policy to it’s dot and handed a sentence of continuing my work with the company in peace.
Suffice to say, her claims were fallacious, baseless, not factual and with malicious intent.
Angered by the findings, “Anisha” sought to be the judge in her own case. Violating every principle of a fair hearing that ever existed.
Let me address a bit the person of Sam.
Sam, my friend who was jailed for the T-shirt he chose to wear, is not your everyday ‘Techprenuer’ . He used his primary years after law school to develop an administration system that eases record keeping in Health institutions, his innovations, if audited would show a track of how many people we have since saved in the health sector. After that, he independently developed software that handles all the administration of a school on just a click.
This product – Schoolplus – is proudly used by the leading excelling schools, students and parents in Uganda.
Sam would, as have some techprenuers, developed an app on where to get the cheapest beer, or where to find the best event but he didn’t. He chose to develop for social service good – health and education.
This is the character that “Anisha” says wants to destroy Uganda, a non-lover of peace sent by the devil’s angels to bring destruction unto the nation.
If I have learnt anything from my friends, it is that we exist in an eco-system bent on changing our country for the better. We do not as many politicians do just rant, we seek to fix problems when we see them and our works – not words – speak for us.
I will address, finally, the reason “Anisha” continues to attack us.
The character “Anisha” together with the blog and Twitter account were created in a few months leading to the election.
The intention was to spread information about the campaign programs of the ruling party – at a fee.
With time, the accounts interpreted their job as that of attacking –online- people who questioned many facts, figures and numbers that they threw around and the response from them was to always malign, shame and seek to discredit the person questioning them without necessarily responding to the questions.
You will notice, at inception, the character “Anisha” claimed to be a citizen of Botswana, in a few weeks, would quickly change that to being a Rwandan with love for Uganda and later become Ugandan, we are hoping, this evolution will help the character truly accept to live up to their name and own the words they say with a real personality.
I know who the character is but to name them will be an invasion of their privacy and that I will restrain from.
The blog, on which “she/he” hoisted the attacks on my person has done not much other than attack the person of Besigye, his supporters and their queries. I know a couple of friends who subscribe to and love NRM and I know how they love to engage and discuss online with those from FDC and the neutral parties. Characters like “Anisha” bring shame to this discourse.
“Anisha’s” five blogs have revolved only around Besigye, his person and his supporters with occasional mention of “Anisha’s” cows in Sembabule.
They have not shown a record of hosting dialogue.
I have offered to hear out “Anisha” but “he/she” has evaded that fair hearing offered to “him/her”.
I invite whoever has read the blog and it’s contents to disregard with contempt the fallacies raised therein.
It’s defamatory at best and reckless at worst.
I however urge the friends of “Anisha” who – by indication of payroll – know ‘his/her’ dealings, to counsel ‘him/her’ on the principles of dialogue, the nuts and bolts of grammar, the complexities of multiple personality disorder and the scripting of paid propaganda.
For those who prefer judgement, I invite you again to the scripture of Matthew 7: 16
“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?”