Court grants bail to two Grapevine Journalists

KAMPALA-Journalists Dickson Mubiru and Alirabaki Sengooba of the Grace Publications that runs the Grape Vine website and Ono Bwiino newspaper have finally been released on bail after having been jailed close to one month in jail over publishing information without a valid broadcasting license.

The two journalists (standing) in court before being released by court.

The two have been released by the Makindye based Standards, Utilities and Wildlife Court magistrate Cienna Owomugisha, following their fresh bail application through their lawyer Andrew Mumpenje.

They were arrested on Tuesday 18 June 2024 as they responded to Police summons , detained at the Central Police Station (CPS) before they were presented before Buganda Road Court Chief magistrate Ronald Kayizzi on two separate files.

One the file shows that on 13th June 2024, journalists Mubiru and Sengooba and others still at large in Kampala published a story titled inside story; How top legislators shared $5millon Vitol Oil Deal Bribe in Grape Vine online media without a valid broadcasting license from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC),contrary to Sec 27 of the UCC Act 2013.

Another file indicates that on the 15th day of May 2024, within Kampala district published a story titled; Lawyer Kalali, justice Nkonge clash over Court case file without a valid broadcasting license from the UCC, which they all denied.

On Tuesday 9 July 2024, the accused journalists had been granted a 1 million cash bail by the Buganda Road Court magistrate Winnie Nankya Jatiko on a singular file, while the matter concerning the second file by the Chief magistrate Kayizzi whose hearing for consideration of bail application was slated on the same day did not yield as he pulled out, giving a leeway to the Standards, Utilities and Wildlife Makindye Court handling, since its transferred file fell in its jurisdiction.

The journalists who had been remanded to Luzira prison close to a month appeared before the Makindye Standards, Utilities and Wildlife Court magistrate Owomugisha on Wednesday 10 July 2024 with high hopes of applying for bail for a pending case file, but only nearly to lose it on learning from the trial magistrate that they were to take fresh plea because all their case files had been transferred to the mandated Standards, Utilities and Wildlife Court.

Hearing of the matter before the same court was later fixed for Thursday 11 July 2024 when prosecution (UCC) would be around.

When the matter came up for mention on Thursday, prosecution by Kenneth Seguya informed court that investigation into the matter were still ongoing, hence asking for adjournment to allow enough time for its completion.

Seguya also told court that he was representing complainants; justice Alexandra Nkonge Rugadya, UCC and the incarcerated Mp Mutembuli.

However, the accused journalists’ lawyer Mumpenje asked court to allow their application for bail since all the cases against them are bailable by court.

He added that the accused persons had presumption of innocence under article 23 of the constitution and also they had substantial sureties that were ready to comply with court orders at any time.

It is on this premise that the trial magistrate released them, noting that their cases are bailable by court. The magistrate however, told their sureties to pay 10 and 3 million shs not cash.

Notable among sureties is the Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) Secretary General Emmanuel Kirunda, Jennifer Bukirwa, Samali Nannyanzi Godfrey Tomusange, Teddy Nambuya and Donozio Mugwanya.

Court was adjourned to July 29 224 at 9:00 am when it will come for further hearing.

UJA Speaks Out.

Speaking shortly after the court session, UJA Secretary General Emmanuel Kirunda welcomed the release of the two journalists, saying journalists should never be persecuted for doing their noble work of mirroring what happens in corridors of the society.

“journalists do not make things happen but just report them, so they are just messangers” , Kirunda emphasized.

Kirunda challenged journalists to uphold the principle of truth telling during the course of their duty






















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