The arrest of Jamilu Ssekyondwa on Saturday, a resident of Luweero district after he allegedly circulated fake news claiming that President Museveni had died has kicked off what will likely be a series of arrests.
Police CID spokesperson Charles Twiine has said the hunt is on for more people who shared the fake news pronouncing the head of state dead in the past weeks.
Twiine said two more people have been arrested in addition to Ssekyondwa, for sharing the message he had crafted. He declined to reveal their names when asked. He said Ssekyondwa’s file is being processed and he will be produced in court very soon.
Arrests began after Museveni last week called for apprehension of those declaring him dead.
“Another problem we need to solve which I think is not a security problem but an idiotic one is Social Media. They have been saying that Museveni is dead. When I went (recently) to lay a foundation stone, people were looking because they had been told that I am dead. Security services need to quickly locate them because they waste a lot of time.” President Museveni directed adding that if they are in Europe, “we can tell them to go to he’ll.”
It has been common for high profile Ugandans to be declared dead on social media when they are alive. For instance, Kabaka of Buganda Ronalda Muwenda Mutebi, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and former Electoral Commission Chairperson Dr. Badru Kiggundu have all been declared dead in recent months. Hajj Bulaimu Kibirige, the proprietor of Hotel Africana, was also declared dead the day after President Museveni was declared dead, a matter that caused lots of concern among members of the public until a vibrant and healthy President Museveni was seen at Speke Resort Munyonyo where he addressed a hybrid World Health Summit on Africa.
However, no arrest was made after Lukwago and Hajj Bulaimu were declared dead.
Asked, CID spokesperson Twiine said that for police to take action, there must be a complainant. For instance, if Mayor Lukwago asks them to arrest those who declared him dead, Twiine said police can take action.
He also said police have built capacity in cyber investigations that they put to use when locating fake news purveyors. Investigations are carried out with the support of Uganda Communications Commission( UCC).