Three journalists working with British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) and a Ministry of Health (MoH) communication officer have been granted police bond after a night in detention.
The journalists; Godfrey Badebye, Rashid Kaweesa and Kassim Muhammad, as well as their driver Shadow Kisaame were detained Thursday at Central Police Station (CPS) Kampala together with Vivian Nakaliika, a wife to NBS television journalist Solomon Sserwanja. Nakaliika is a Communication officer with the Ministry of Health.
On Friday, a team comprising of the Chief Executive Officer NBS TV Kin Kaliisa and a representative from the BBC Nairobi Bureau and Human Rights lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi went to CPS to secure their bond.
At around 10am, detectives led by the officer in charge of Criminal Investigations Joshua Tusingwire agreed to release them on bond as investigations into the alleged illegal possession of classified drugs continue. The suspects have been asked to report back on February 18, 2019.
“They have told us that investigations are still ongoing but we were prepared for anything,” said Robert Ssempala, the National Coordinator of the Human Rights Network for Journalists HRNJ-Uganda. Ssempala, Kin Kaliisa and journalist Raymond Mujuni stood surety for the group.
It is alleged that detectives and operatives of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) uncovered several boxes of Malaria and Hepatitis B vaccine in Solomon and Vivian’s home in Mukono during the search.
Preliminary investigation indicates that Badebye and Kassim were the first to be arrested on Wednesday together with their driver Shafiq Kisaame from Makindye where they were allegedly meeting two medical officers who were meant to sell to them more drugs.
The three revealed upon interrogation that they had been working on a documentary through which they were able to buy various drugs from the black market across the country. In the aftermath, another Kaweesa was arrested alongside Nakaliika. Meanwhile Mr Sserwanja whom police said was on the run handed himself in to police.
Mr Sserwanja resurfaced at midday at CPS and by press time he was in interrogation room with his news editor Joyce Bagala. A number of journalists camped at CPS as they waited to hear from Mr Sserwanja on what perhaps transpired during interrogation.
In the statement released on Friday, the ministry of health said, it was premature for them to speculate on the matter until they get complete information on this case.
“However, we are shocked and concerned that there is still drug theft rackets operating in the country. As a Ministry, we support any endeavor that is aimed at helping government to expose individuals involved in stealing government medicines and other commodities,” said Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the ministry’s senior public relations officer.