LOP Ssenyonyi threatens to sue journalist over Shs 1bn bribery allegations

Fix roads instead of blocking opposition, LoP Ssenyonyi criticizes govt
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mr Joel Ssenyonyi.

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Joel Ssenyonyi, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LOP), has announced plans to sue journalist Dean Lubowa Saava for allegations of bribery.

Saava accused Ssenyonyi on the platform “The Investigator Updates” and during an interview titled “Direct Shot” of accepting a Shs1 billion bribe from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) while he was the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE).

Ssenyonyi’s lawyers, Pace Advocates, have issued a notice to Saava and Geoffrey Lukwago, insisting on a retraction and apology. The letter, dated June 27, 2024, claims the bribery allegations are false, malicious, and damaging to Ssenyonyi’s reputation. Known for his anti-corruption efforts, Ssenyonyi believes these unfounded claims could severely affect his public standing and integrity.

The legal notice demands a written and video retraction of the statements within 48 hours of the letter’s date, to be published on the same platforms where the allegations were made. Non-compliance will lead to civil litigation for significant damages.

“The purpose of this letter is to demand a retraction of the false statements and an unequivocal apology, to be published both in writing and video format on the same forum where the allegations were aired, within 48 hours from the date of this letter,” reads the notice in part.

The bribery allegations against Joel Ssenyonyi have ignited controversy, especially in light of his strong anti-corruption stance.

Earlier this year, Ssenyonyi faced criticism over inconsistencies regarding his travel to Nairobi, Kenya, ostensibly for a single day. The trip was to visit Muhammad Ssegirinya, the Member of Parliament for Kawempe North, who was receiving treatment at Agha Khan Hospital.

Leaked correspondence obtained by the Nile Post revealed that Ssenyonyi had sought permission from Parliament to be absent from February 1 to February 5, 2024. Reports indicated that around Shs36 million was allocated for the Nairobi trip.

Ssenyonyi, however, clarified that his intention was to stay only one night, explaining that the funds were mistakenly processed for five days instead of the single day he had planned.

Also Read: Media Council summons The Observer editors to defend MPs bribery story

“I had clearly stated my intention to stay for one night and promptly return. However, I was surprised to find that funds were processed for five days, contrary to my plans,” he clarified during a media briefing at Parliament.

Joel Ssenyonyi highlighted the necessity of accountability among leaders, noting that there is a parliamentary office tasked with deducting any excess expenses from their salaries in subsequent months.

However, the leaked letter requesting permission from Parliament showed that Ssenyonyi had indeed asked for a five-day absence.