Busoga One FM sues Ugandan gov’t, UCC and IGP Ochola for illegal closure

Busoga One Radio Logo
Police officers besieged Busoga One FM radio station and immediately switched it off on Jan 14th, 2021.

Jinja, Uganda | URN | Busoga One Radio Limited has jointly sued the government, Uganda Communications Commission [UCC] and Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola for illegal closure of the station for ten days after the presidential elections.

The radio station through its lawyers of Galisonga and Company Advocates has filed a suit before the High Court Civil Division in Kampala.

According to the suit documents seen by this publication, the Busoga One Manager, Innocent Anyole says in his affidavit that on January 14th 2021 at around 6:30 pm, police officers besieged the radio station and immediately switched it off. They then ordered the employees who were going about their normal broadcasting duties to vacate the station premises.

Anyole who swore the affidavit on January 22, 2021, contends that since then, the radio station premises have been under the control of police officers who have blocked the employees from accessing it.

However, this publication has learnt that the officers have since left the premises and the station has resumed its normal broadcast.

According to Anyole, the occupation of the radio premises by police was illegal, unfair and an infringement on its worker’s economic rights, the right to practice their trade and to earn a living and as such an infringement on their right life.

Documents before Court show that the decision to besiege the radio premises and switch it off was made without a court order and efforts to establish who issued the orders proved futile.

Anyole explains that he contacted Irene Kaggwa-Sewankambo, the Executive Director UCC on the matter but she instead referred him to the police leadership that wasn’t helpful.

He says none of the government agencies took responsibility for what was going on at the radio station as they kept tossing him from one office to another.

According to Anyole, the radio station and its employees suffered great loss as all their business partners including advertisers can’t transact with it.

Busoga One now wants the court to order the government, UCC and police to pay damages for the inconveniences caused during the time they were off air.

They also want a declaration that the takeover of its premises was illegal since they were never given a fair hearing. UCC spokesperson Ibrahim Bbosa couldn’t be reached for a comment on the matter. The UCC legal Oofficer, Abdul Salaam Waisswa declined to comment on the matter saying he has not yet looked at the court documents.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga told this publication that the station was closed because the presenters were being partisan. He explained that police maintained its presence at the station premises following a directive from UCC because the presenters were announcing unconfirmed election results.

Read Also: Voice of Tooro switched off after hosting Fort Portal City Woman MP Candidate

According to Enanga, they are investigating two cases including interfering with the the electoral process and inciting violence, adding that they have since recorded statements from the station employees and investigations are ongoing.

One of the ardent listeners of Busoga One FM told this publication on the condition of anonymity that they were listening to John Odwori, one of the station presenters who kept on saying that; “my private president has won elections in all the island communities and will become the 10th president,” when the station was turned off. 

The case file is before Justice Musa Ssekaana, the head of the High Court Civil Division who is yet to set a date for the hearing.