CID questions Monitor, Red Pepper editors over Age Limit Bill budget story

Daily Monitor and Red Pepper editors were questioned at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) over a story on the leaked budget for public participation for the Age Limit Bill.

Mr Dan Kalinaki, the NMG Uganda general manager- Editorial, and Mr Charles Bichachi, the executive editor, appeared at the Kibuli-based Media Crime department on Monday in the company of their lawyer James Nangwala and the Daily Monitor company secretary Mr Timothy Ntale. Mr Richard Kintu of Red Pepper also reported with his lawyer.

LEAKED BUDGET

Last week, police authorities summoned the editors after the story in question was published on October 12 in the Daily Monitor under the headline: Age limit budget for 23-man team leaks.

“You are therefore in pursuance of the provisions of Section 27A of the Police Act (as amended) required to report before the undersigned at CID headquarters Kibuli on 16 October 2017 at 10:00hrs in that regard,” a letter signed by Mr Isaac Oketcho on behalf of the Director Criminal Investigations reads in part.

The police summons come hot on the heels of the controversial ‘Age Limit Bill’, which seeks to amend Article 102 (b) to remove the age caps for presidency.

According to Daily Monitor’s story, at least 23 legislators, 15 Parliament staff, 15 police officers and five drivers are to draw USh17.7 million (Sh501,620) in allowances more than 10 days for upcountry consultations on the proposal to scrap the presidential age limit.

Last week, Mr Bichachi said they would obey the CID summonses.

FACTUAL

“We are curious to know what issues the police or any other party has with our story that is grounded in facts, balance and perspective,” he said.

“The removal or retention of the age limit cap in the Constitution is a matter that touches on every Ugandan. We shall cover it in its entirety for the benefit of our readers and the country in general.”

The draft Bill to scrap the presidential age limit caps from the 1995 Constitution was recently tabled by Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi amid stern protests from MPs across the political divide.

The Bill proposes that the law be changed to allow those above 75 years and below 35 to contest for presidency. 

House Speaker Rebecca Kadaga forwarded the Bill to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs after security operatives stormed the Chambers and evicted those opposed to the lifting of the presidential age limit.

PROBE

Next month, the 23-man committee, led by West Budama South legislator Jacob Oboth Oboth, is expected to crisscross the country soliciting views of Ugandans on the controversial Bill.

Two weeks ago, Ms Kadaga adjourned the House (sine die) to allow members consult their voters.

The Daily Monitor last week broke the story of the Legal Committee draft budget for conducting the public hearings on the age limit bill. It is this leaked USh715 million (Sh20.3 million) budget, confirmed by the committee chairperson, that police authorities are investigating.

However, it is not yet clear what exactly Mr Magyezi asked police to investigate.

The leaked age limit budget shows that a total of USh88 million (Sh2.5 million) has been budgeted for accommodation, transport refund, contingency and off-pocket allowance for members when the team will retreat to a hotel to draft a report on its findings before presentation to the whole House.

Police also summoned the editor of Pepper Publications, the publisher of Red Pepper, to also respond to queries on the age limit related story which they published last week.

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