The police has today quizzed and detained two Pepper Publications News Editors, Ben Baryabaha of The Redpepper and Dickson Mubiru of Kamunye, a Luganda daily, over a story and photographs of a lifeless man carried in the tabloid, purportedly of Christopher Aine, the missing head of the Go Forward candidate John Patrick Amama Mbabazi’s private security detail.
In the story today titled ‘Aine body emerges’ the tabloid says the lifeless body is that of Aine, a wanted by police for ‘grievous assault’ and is being sought with a bounty of Shs20 million on his head.
According to a letter from the CID that Eagle Online has seen, the Managing Editor of Pepper Publication was required at the Special investigations police unit at Kireka for interrogation and recording of a statement.
“Special Investigations Unit is conducting an investigation into publication ‘Aine body emerges’ that was carried on page 1 and 2 of the Red Pepper 07/01/2016. Pursuant to section 27A of the Police Act, you are required to report to Special investigations Division Kireka, today Thursday, 07/01/2016 at 16:30 hrs to assist in giving information in respect to the matter being investigated,” read the letter in part.
Aine is said to have gone missing after his arrest was ordered by the Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura over election violence that ensued when the Go Forward supporters clashed with those of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) during one of Mbabazi’s rallies in Ntungamo.
Varying communications about Aine’s whereabouts have caused anxiety, with the apparent ping pong between authorities, the Go Forward team and his relatives leaving a confused public.
It is against this background that The Redpepper carried the controversial story and when the family saw the photo they stormed police and asked to be escorted to the City Mortuary in Mulago to verify if the said dead body is indeed that of their missing relative.
The mortuary sojourn proved fruitless but the relatives led by Aine’s twin sister Ritah Babirye Aine insisted that the photo in the newspaper was indeed for her missing brother.
However, Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga was quick to dispel Ms Aine’s claims, saying that the photo that appeared in the tabloids was either photo-shopped or that of another person.
In a related development, the Go Forward lawyers have sought the writ of habeas corpus in respect to Aine, who was allegedly picked by unknown people from the city suburb of Kyanja about two weeks ago and has not been seen since then.
By press time it was not possible to get a comment from either the police or the Redpepper management.
The Redpepper has sometimes run in trouble following the publication of controversial stories and in 2013 their offices, together with those of the Monitor Publications, were closed for 10 days after running a story on ‘the succession project’ in regard to first son Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba, arising from a letter written by General David Sejusa to the Director General of Internal Security Organisation (ISO) Brigadier Ronnie Barya.