On December 30th 2022, The Grapevine News website CEO, Ashley Dickson Mubiru aka Dixon Mubiru was arrested by police. We later learnt that his arrest was prompted by orders from city businessman Hamis Kiggundu. Upon his release, Dixon went home, relaxed, and composed himself to recorrect the chronology of the a2z of his escapades with the renowned `tycoon` and, below is his slightly edited story;
HOW HAM KIGGUNDU HAS TORMENTED ME FOR 8 DAYS, Threatened To Use One Billion To Finish Me and Why It Was Wrong For Him To Drag The First Family And State House Into His Fights With Me and Media…
First and foremost, I would like to thank the authorities (State House, Government and Security), the media and my team at New Grace Publications (NGP) for fighting to secure my release. I would like to state that my arrest has got nothing to do with State House [and, or] the First Family. My arrest had been fueled by a one Hamis Kiggundu who had earlier promised to spend One billion shilling on me if I don’t apologize over the stories we wrote in our publications, Ono Bwino and Top Secrets newspaper.
Ham Kiggundu has spent eight days trying to intimidate us into apologising to him through a statement and apublic apology, even after we told him that we are ready to defend whatever we wrote in courts of law. Below is a blow-by-blow account of how I have been threatened since 22nd December, 2022:
It all started on Thursday 22nd December when unknown people, using the number 070093xxxx called me saying that they wanted me to help them publish a story about their friend who was held by security. They further claimed that I had previously helped one of their colleagues from Koboko. To the best of my knowledge and understanding, I had never helped someone in that situation.
In my mind, I immediately knew that these people were wrong elements and ignored them. However, this same number (070093xxxx) kept disturbing me the whole of Thursday by sending me WhatsApp messagesover the same matter but I [continuously] ignored them. I later told them that I’m busy and I will get back to them when I finish work that day. But they still kept bombarding me with messages as shown in the screenshot below.
I later resolved to ignore them because I didn’t know what they were talking about. However, on Saturday 24th December 2022 at 7:53am, a one Latiff called me threatening me. He called me again at 20:02, telling me that I was wanted at Kira Division Police and that he was given instructions to arrest me. I told him they are calling a wrong person because we have structures we follow as a company if someone is lodging a complaint against one of our publications.
Because of the threats, I told him that it was already late and the next two days were public holidays. So, I told him to wait for 27th December when we would show up with my team. Surprisingly, a friend of mine and former workmate who I respect a lot, a Senior Journalist, called me on Saturday at 10:49 am and told me that he had slept in Kira Division Police cells the previous night (Friday night) on orders of Hamis Kiggundu.
John V. Sserwaniko narrated that the reason for his imprisonment was because of a story he published which he picked from our local publication, Ono Bwiino concerning Hamis Kiggundu. He pleaded with me to join him at the police to solve the matter immediately. I told John, that is not how we work. I told him I’m in charge of all administrative duties at NGP and if anyone has a complaint against any of our publications, they should go through the right legal process and the matter will be handled.
I further told him that all stories have authors and the story they were complaining about has an author who is willing to defend his facts in courts of law. I also told him that the complainant (Hamis Kiggundu) was reached several times via phone and WhatApp to get his side of the story but he refused to answer us. He later told me that the people who arrested him didn’t follow the law and that everyone at the police had been compromised. So, he said, it is better I join him and we resolve the issue with the complainant because no security organ will help me once I’m picked from the streets like him.
He told me that all police officers at the station were already compromised and Ham had paid them handsomely to have us arrested and detained. As proof of what he was talking about, he narrated how he was later taken to Hamis Kiggundu’s offices at Nakivubo in the company of his wife, by the very officers who arrested him and they pleaded with him to forgive him after making a statement and an apology. He advised me that I should do the same. However, I stood my ground and told him to let them follow the law because we are ready to defend all the stories in court.
But he kept insisting that the people looking for me do not follow the law (Tobanyumiza mateeka). He also told me that they already know all my numbers and they are tracking my movements. I told him I’m not a law breaker, that is why all the numbers I use both for phone calls and data are registered in my name which is not a crime. He still insisted and even told me that once we agree with Hamis Kiggundu, he will even give me some money and some business deals so I should use this opportunity. I told him that is not what I want and it is not an issue.
JV Further Insists
Later on, the same night, thus Senior Journalist JV called again and said he is organizing with one of Hamis Kiggundu’s assistants, a one Isaac, for me to meet Kiggundu at his home so that we resolve the matter amicably. He told me that he does not want me to go through the psychological torture and pain he went through. He said that if there is a chance to talk peacefully and resolve the matter, I should use it. I inquired from various people including senior lawyers on whether to meet him. They told me that it is not bad to meet a person who is aggrieved against you to get his side of the story.
I wanted to send a representative but the team advised that I go myself because some people arrest journalists on trumped up charges once they fail to agree to their terms. The team told me that since I’m an administrator, with a good editorial background, I should be the one to handle the matter, since he had refused to answer our calls and messages to get his side of the story. I told JV to proceed and initiate the meeting which I would attend so that I get to know what the complaint is.
On Sunday Morning, which was Christmas Day, Senior JV called me in the morning at 11:49am and informed me that Kiggundu had agreed to meet us at his home in Bunga. He told me that Kiggundu had many appointments but he had cancelled them to wait for us so that we could resolve the matter amicably. I told him I don’t want any violence and insisted that I’m trusting him on this matter. I told him that I had to travel with him since it is them who initiated the meeting.
Later on that day, I drove with some of my family members to meet Kiggundu. We first picked this Senior Journalist opposite Rubis Petrol station in Kansanga along Ggaba Road and we moved to Hamis Kiggundu’s residence. While driving there, I told JV that I don’t want anything violent and he assured me that he was working with Kiggundu’s assistant, one Isaac and Hamis Kiggundu wanted the meeting to take place in good faith. Meanwhile I had informed various people, especially staff members and friends, about the meeting.
At Hamis Kiggundu`s Residence
However, when we reached the premises, my instincts informed me that probably, I had been lied to. Reason being that Isaac, who they said had organized the meeting was nowhere to be seen. JV had also changed the tone and words he was using.
We were told to enter and immediately when the meeting started, I switched on my phone recorder since I knew we were going to get Ham’s side of the story which would be published later and also insulate myself against any violence. But prior to my coming, I had also told some staff to call me every after 30 minutes.
When Ham entered the living room where we were seated, he right away, started threatening me. He abused me and called me a very stupid man who can’t fight him because he has all the money to put me down. I told him that we don’t fight people but do our job as media. I also informed him that we have structures we follow and my journey to his premises was to give him an opportunity to tell us where our writers went wrong and give us his side of the story.
He interjected and told me that we are stupid. He further threatened me that they have been looking for me for four days and my phones and movements were being tracked. He further told me that his men were waiting for me at a church in Kireka that Christmas Morning to arrest me once I get out but I eluded them. He told me that since I was in his house, I was under arrest.
He told me that his home is filled with many officers and he can order them to arrest me immediately. He later said that if it wasn’t for some of my family members who I had travelled with, I would be under arrest. He vowed to use UGX1Bn to make sure that I at least sleep 14 days in prison for being stupid, arrogant and writing about him. After 33 minutes, one of my staff called my number, like I had instructed him to do. On seeing the call, Ham instructed Isaac, his assistant to check whether I’m not recording him. Isaac told him that I was recording him and he went into another outburst, and the meeting ended.
All this while, I was telling him that I never trusted the environment because I was lied to that is why I recorded the proceeding and it was for my own safety. He vowed that he has left me to go and finish the 2 festive days, and after, on 27th December, he would make sure that his men arrest me. He now called three men who were dressed casually, led by a one Latif (who had called me earlier and was trailing my movements). “Here is the man you have been looking for four (4) days,” he announced.
“Leave him to enjoy his Christmas with his family today, but make sure on 27th you arrest him and he sleeps in prison for 14 days,” Ham instructed Latiff and his men. We never agreed on anything on that day because the environment I found was totally different from what I expected and what JV had promised. I left his premises with some of my family members I had moved with and started engaging my team and our lawyers.
On Monday 26th December, 2022, one of my staff called Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson Patrick Onyango to guide us. We explained to him that some people from Kira Division are calling us but we don’t trust the way they are doing things. Onyango asked for the number that is calling us and we gave him Latiff’s number. Afande Onyango later called back and told us that he had instructed them to bring the summons to his office so that we pick them from there.
He further disclosed that they had told him that we didn’t have an office that is why they have been looking for us. For the record, our offices have been known for 4 years and they are well highlighted at the back of every publication we make. So, it is very easy to find us and summon us legally. Surprisingly, Onyango later in the evening called our journalist and told him to go there, saying they had told him we had agreed with Hamis Kiggundu. The reporter told him we had not agreed and that the meeting had ended abruptly.
We instructed our lawyers to go to Kira Division and find out whether we have any summons or case to answer and come back and advise us accordingly. The Lawyer went and he was told they don’t have any case against the people and publication he was talking about. The lawyer later called back and told us there is no case at Kira Division Police.
Our legal team also advised us to lodge a complaint at the Criminal Investigations Department in Kibuli over Ham Kiggundu’s threats, which we did and our letter was dully received. On Friday, a team of police officers and plain clothed men raided our offices and told my staff that they had instructions to arrest me. My team put them to task to tell them on what charges they are arresting me. However, the officers refused to disclose the charges and said I will know them when I reach police.
They later bumped into my office and told me that I was under arrest. When I asked them on what charges. They refused to disclose them. I humbly followed them to Nkurumah police and later to Kira division police. I knew of the charge at Nkurumah police station after the KMP CID commander asked them on phone why they had arrested me.
Mention of State House
When Ham Kiggundu and his team realized that we are not going to be compromised, and that we are ready to defend our stories in court, they started forging stories that I was arrested on orders of State House and the First Family. Which is not true. For the record, State House instead played a major role in my release. As journalists, our job is to inform, educate and entertain the general public. That is what Ono Bwino and Top Secrets does.
We are not ready to compromise and apologise over matters that are in the open and in courts of law. Dear Ham, if you feel aggrieved, instead of sending people to raid our offices, threaten our lives and also soil the name of the First Family and State House, please go to court. The publication will defend itself. Media houses have structures, and once you go through the correct legal process, your matter will be addressed without threatening another person’s life.
Mubiru Dickson Ashley
New Grace Publications Ltd.
Room T13 Fair House, Nasser Road
0772 098226, 0752 227640
Email: [email protected]
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This is kind of people .abavumaganya government. Hide under state House.