Solidarity For Missing Journalist In Uganda
Lira, Uganda. July 21, 2011/ HRNJ/– Over 50 journalists in Lira have matched to Lira Central Police Station to demand explanation from police the whereabouts of their colleague Augustine Okello aka Rouks, a radio presenter who went missing last week.
The match was led by their chairperson Nancy Obita and General Secretary Hudson Apunyo under Lango United Journalists Association, the journalists delivered a petition to the different security chiefs including the District Police Commander, Resident District Commissioner, Regional Police Commander and the District Internal Security officer.
However, when the journalists set off from CPS to DISO’ S office located across the road to deliver their petition, the DISO Eryaku Steven was threatened, shut his office and took off before journalists reached his office.
The letter asks security officers to explain the whereabouts of the presenter who is also a student at UMCAT School of journalism-Lira Study Centre. They urge that it was unfair for the security personnel’s to remain unbothered by the disappearance of the presenter and yet it is highly suspected that he was arrested by them.
“It was at around 3pm Wednesday, last week, when Rouks received a telephone call purportedly from DISO asking him to go and meet him at Grand Pacific Hotel in Lira Town. Since then I have never seen him again” Acio Sarah, Rouks workmate at Rhino fm told journalists. Acio said, The same day DISO called Rouks to his office where she accompanied him and they were made to sign in the visitors Book after which the DISO promised to call and meet Rouks again in the evening of the same day.
However, in an earlier interview with the victim’s wife Loretta Awor-Okello in the presence of Sarah Acio, the DISO denied having any knowledge of Rouks whereabouts though police sources claim that DISO took Rouk’s unregistered motorbike to police where it was still parked by press time.
At Lira Central Police Station, DPC Robert Semata told leaders of the journalists that they have opened a general inquiry file to investigate Rouks disappearance but he declined to answer any ensuing questions from the press.
”We will avail you with the information you want by 6pm if it is ready” says the regional Police Spokesperson for Mid North Region, Henry Alyanga.
By press time, many journalists were camped at mayors’ garden adjacent to the Central Police Station pondering on the possible way forward in case police does not divulge the information they expect.
“We suspect that Okello may have been kidnapped on work related matters as it has been the practice of government security forces. We shall fight and ensure that Okello is produced in courts of law” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.
HRNJ-Uganda calls on upon all foreign missions based in Uganda to put pressure on government to release Okello from illegal detention.
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has lined up a team of lawyers to start on the legal process to force government produce Okello in court.