UBC journalist, Peter Otai addressing the press in Kampala recently. Photos/File/ Francis Emorut
KAMPALA - A local journalist has dragged Uganda's Ambassador to Burundi Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Matayo Kyaligonza seeking over sh400m in damages for alleged assault.
In a suit filed at the Civil Division of the High Court on Tuesday, Deogratius Peter Otai of the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) states that on February 24, 2019 at Seeta in Mukono district, Kyaligonza together with his two bodyguards assaulted him while he was on duty.
Otai sued Kyaligonza, his two bodyguards, Cpl. Peter Bushindiki, Private John Robert Okurut and the Attorney General.
On February 24, 2019, Kyaligonza is said to have made a U-turn in the middle of the road and later allegedly assaulted the traffic officer on duty Esther Namaganda and Otai.
Otai says that he captured the incident, which could have angered Kyaligonza and his bodyguards to attack him.
The video went viral on social media indicating the incident.
Otai filed the case together with the Uganda Journalist Association (UJA) demanding that he is compensated for the violation of his fundamental rights against torture, ill-treatment and abstraction from executing his journalistic duties.
Otai asserts that he was shocked to see the two bodyguards who were in military attire and Kyaligonza slapping and cocking a gun to Namaganda and this is when he took out his phone and started recording the incident.
"When the bodyguards saw me capturing the incident, they confronted me demanding to know who I was. When I introduced myself to them, they started assaulting me," Otai states in an affidavit.
Otai states that instead of letting him continue with his work, the guards surrounded him, cocked their guns at him, slapped and kicked him with their military boots while demanding that he deletes the videos and pictures he had taken.
The journalist further asserts that he started fearing for his life the moment he saw one of Kyaligonza's guards swinging a sword around his neck, which he jumped over and managed to run for his life to check in a Health facility from where he also shared the assault video that went viral on social media networks .
Through their lawyers of Kiiza and Company Advocates, Otai and UJA want court to declare that Kyaligonza's actions including torture and threatening to injure the journalist amounted to an infringement of his rights and freedoms protected by the constitution.
"Currently, I am living in fear and I still get nightmares. Even when I hear something hitting the wall, the door creaking, the dogs barking or windows shutting and screeching, I am forced to sit awake on my bed almost the entire night, engulfed by fear,"Otai contends.
The deputy registrar of the civil division of the High Court Sarah Langa is yet to issue summons directing the defendants to file their defence within 15 days.
Meanwhile, the Police has already forwarded Kyaligonza's assault file to the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) who says he is still waiting for evidence from two more witnesses to be able to sanction and forward the file to court.
The Army explained that it had no authority to charge Kyaligonza who has since retired as an active soldier.
UBC scribe narrates assault ordeal, wants sh500m