Security operatives are holding Richard Mutoigo, a journalist with Baba FM based in the eastern city of Jinja. The journalist was picked up by a joint team of Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces (UPDF) and plain-clothed security personnel outside the Electoral Commission (EC) tally centre at Jinja senior secondary school from where he was making live updates of the outcome of Wednesday’s local government elections.
Mutoigo, who was whisked away in an unidentified black saloon car, was relaying the events outside the tally center. Police are yet to communicate Mutoigo’s whereabouts but accused the journalists of making reports that were likely to incite violence, the Kiira region police spokesperson, Abbey Ngako said.
Five other journalists were also evicted from the tally center. UPDF and police officers were seen blocking journalists from conducting interviews near the tally center. Some television journalists were also forced to delete the footage they had recorded in exchange for their freedom.
Ramadhan Ssenyonga, a journalist working with BabaTV says a UPDF soldier blocked him from interviewing candidates and directed him to delete the footage he had earlier on recorded or risk arrest. Ahmed Hasunira, the commandant of Jinja Central Police Station has directed journalists to desist from interviewing candidates, arguing that their messages contain false propaganda aimed at inciting masses to riot.
Mutoigo becomes the second journalist to be arrested in connection to the live broadcast of the local government elections. On Wednesday, Charles Kyalisiima, a reporter attached to the Masindi based Radio Kitara was picked up for reporting live the district council elections.
Kyalisiima was broadcasting an incident where the agents of Cosmas Byaruhanga, one of the candidates for the Masindi LC V Chairperson seat were accusing the agents of his rival, Wilson Isingoma Mugimba of conniving with recruits from Kabalye police training school to rig in his favour.
The agents accused the police recruits of voting at Kabalye polling station yet they are not registered voters in the area. The officers confiscated Kyalisiima’s equipment a mobile phone and recorder that he was using to report the event. Annet Najjemba, the Programs Director at Radio Kitara told Uganda Radio Network that the reporter was later set free after thorough questioning by security officers.