By Emmanuel Luganda
KAMPALA - A journalist who was shot by a policeman while covering the return of then-FDC president Dr. Kizza Besigye from Nairobi in 2011 has sued government for causing grievous harm and injury to him.
Gideon Tugume, formerly working with Capital Radio, is accusing the Uganda Police of shooting him in the leg, consequently causing him lameness and severe injury.
The hearing of the case kicked off on Friday at the Uganda Human Rights Commission Tribunal in Ntinda with the victim implicating the police chief’s body guard in the shooting.
Tugume told the tribunal led by Commissioner Violet Akurut Adowe that the incident happened at the Kibuye roundabout.
He said he was shot by one of the Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura’s body guards at around 2.00pm local time.
“I raised my hands saying ‘please don’t shoot me I am a journalist’. Before I could complete my statement, I felt a sharp pain on my right knee before suddenly falling down.”
At the time, he said, he was wearing a press jacket emblazoned with the words Capital/Beat FM, had an identity card and also an audio recorder in his hands.
Tugume narrated farther that he was rushed to Mulago hospital in a police ambulance where he spent a night without being attended to before later being transferred to AAR Health Services in Kololo “where I had insurance”.
A few months after the shooting, he said, his employer (Capital Radio) terminated his contract due to continued absence from work as a result of injuries he had sustained. The journalist told the seating that he has since remained jobless.
Lubwama Kajoba, a reporter working with Top TV/Radio who was covering the same event, testified before the tribunal.
He said he saw a uniformed police officer shooting at Tugume at Kibuye as security operatives dispersed other journalists by firing shots in the air.
“All journalists ran to where Kayihura [IGP] was standing, something his body guards appeared not want. A short black man armed with a gun wearing a police uniform shot Tugume in the leg and he fell down, “testified Lubwama.
A wife, four kids, no job
That same year, Tugume, through the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda), filed a complaint before the Uganda Human Rights Commission alleging a violation of his right to protection from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Article 24 of the Constitution of Uganda.
Now the unsettled journalist wants government to compensate him with shs200m on the basis that he has become lame and jobless as well as a result of the shooting.
“After I was shot I lost my job yet I have a wife and four children. I have sold every property of mine including my two plots of land and a car.”
His lawyer, Catherine Anite (from HRNJ-Uganda) said she is hopeful that justice will eventually prevail.
Richard Adrole, a lawyer from the Attorney General’s office who represented the government, told the tribunal that he will first consult the office of the Inspector General of Police pertaining Tugume’s issue.
“I will consult the police and get the true story of Tugume’s claims – whether they treated him or not.”
The matter was adjourned until September 18 for further hearing.