By Barbra Kabahumuza and Juliet Waiswa
Erias Lukwago has sued the director of Uganda Media Centre, Ofwono Opondo, seeking compensation of sh500m for violation of his rights and freedoms.
The Kampala Lord Mayor filed the suit at the Civil Division of the High Court, seeking an order that Opondo makes a public apology for mockery, hatred and defamation he subjected him to.
The suit follows a July 28 incident, where Lukwago claims that while appearing on a local television talk show as one of the panellists, he was allegedly attacked, manhandled and battered by Opondo.
Lukwago said he suffered psychological torture, trauma and physical pain when Opondo charged at him, threatened to evict him from the studios and the subsequent punches and kicks he gave him on the chest and stomach.
Lukwago alleged that midway the debate, hell broke loose when Opondo ran berserk and started throwing tantrums.
He asserted that out of the blue, Opondo sprung up from his seat, charged at him and threatened to evict him from the studios.
He further alleged that Opondo pushed his hand into the pocket in a manner that suggested he wanted to draw a pistol at him.
“Opondo, thereafter, pounced on my neck and attempted to strangle me and as I struggled to wriggle out of his grip, he punched me in the chest, kicked my stomach and grabbed my jacket as he pulled me from the chair,” Lukwago asserted.
According to court documents, Lukwago said he maintained his cool and chose not to engage in a fist fight, but instead concentrated on shielding his face with both palms.
The Lord Mayor further stated that the talk show moderator, Charles Mwangushya and co-panellists, Winnie Kiiza (former Leader of Opposition) and Chris Baryomunsi (ICT minister) intervened and pulled away Opondo.
“The talk show ended prematurely and Opondo was shouting at the top of his voice that he was going to finish me off in the corridors or outside the building, and he made frantic calls to people I did not understand, requesting reinforcement,” reads part of the plaint.
Lukwago stated that the Kira Road Division Police Commander, Geoffrey Ssebuyungo, together with the Operations Commander, Aden Muzawula, showed up with several Police Personnel and made arrangements with Baryomunsi to escort him back home at around 1:00am.
Lukwago stated that the actions and conduct of Opondo were egregious, cruel, barbaric and high-handed in nature.
He asked court to declare that the actions of Opondo of retraining him from moving out of the TV premises were in violation of his rights to personal liberty.
Lukwago also wants cost of the application.