By Stephen Lwetutte
LONDO-UNITED KINGDOM/NEWSDAY: The disappearance of blogger Fred Lumbuye has raised fears over his safety attracting Ugandans to launch a hashtag #FreeFredLumbuye.
Lumbuye went missing barely a month after some bloggers announced the Ugandan President dead and Mr. Museveni retaliated by saying “we will arrest those idiots”.
Initial reports indicated that Lumbuye had been arrested by Turkish police but later, though, reports spoke of an abduction by unknown persons and that police was investigating. But all of that has not been corroborated neither by Ankara nor Kampala.
Some reports say Lumbuye was arrested from the Uganda embassy where he had supposedly gone to renew his passport yet others say he was picked from his apartment.
Given the very late timing of the news, it was difficult to confirm either way, but perhaps things will become clearer as the day wears on. The Uganda diaspora community, in the meantime, took to social media to demand for his release under #FreeFredLumbuye.
However, if true Lumbuye has been arrested, the extradition or any action against a controversial foreign national is a process not an event and is not taken lightly by host governments. It involves formal diplomatic and legal procedures that must adhere to local, regional and international standards, including litigation at all those level before, during and after the event.
It is extremely unlikely that any formal Turkish action would lead to return Mr Lumbuye to Uganda given the internationally well-publicized human rights record of the current Ugandan regime under president Museveni, even if extradition was justified. No country at the moment is willing to soil its image by putting an individual in harm’s way.
It will be recalled that even in Uganda, when the Rwandese nationals seeking protection in Uganda were unlawfully returned to Rwanda, heads of very senior officials rolled and a few were prosecuted by Ugandan authorities. The matter even soured the already strained relations further with accusations and counter accusations of espionage.
In Turkey itself, a famous anti Saudi government dissident, Jamal Khashoggi was abducted and murdered, which angered Turkey, the United States and the world. Saudi Arabia had to come clean and admit responsibility, but that did not prevent US sanctions against its staunchest ally in the Middle East.
Whatever has happened to Fred Lumbuye, if confirmed, will be the subject of a protracted action, and if reports of abductions are borne out, serious consequences for the Uganda-Turkish relationship will likely follow. Otherwise, Lumbuye’s formal extradition to Uganda can for now be safely ruled out.
At the time of filing this report, no confirmation of the circumstances of Lumbuye’s reported arrest or disappearance had been received by Newsday. We will keep the readers posted as the story develops.
On July 12, the Police’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID) spokesperson Charles Twiine indicated in an interview that after a long time of Kajubi’s falsehoods, it had now dawned on him.
He accused him of circulating unfounded allegations via his social media accounts.
At the time, police widened the list of the wanted individuals to include two Sweden based bloggers Eddie Messiah and Peng Peng; Uganda based Jakana Nadduli also son of NRM stalwart Alhaji Abdul Nadduli, Kojja Omugezi based in Ireland and others are all to be arrested “as wherever and soon as spotted”.
Earlier on Jamir Ssekyondwa suspected to have authored the fake news relating to the death of the President had been arrested. The 22-year old was arrested from Luwero and has since been charged and remanded over computer misuse and cyber harassment.
Lumbuye is based in Turkey and has consistently been an anti-government blogger. He commands a huge following and viewership, and has lately taken the cyber waves by storm. His characteristically acerbic live shows seem to whip up anti-government mood and sentiments across a section of the public who religiously listen to him. Mr Lumbuye regularly claims to be privy to sensational highly classified intelligence from within the Ugandan establishment via his “drones”, and on a few occasions, his information has happened with astonishing accuracy.
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