Police have said more suspects have been arrested for spreading fake news on social media regarding the death of President Museveni.
Criminal Investigations spokesperson, Charles Twine on Monday said after the arrest of Peter Ssekyondwa from Luweero last week, security has picked more suspects to help in investigations over the matter.
“We have been undertaking investigations and on Thursday we arrested one of the suspects (Ssekyondwa) who had authored a message extending what had been authored by people outside our jurisdiction. He edited the message(from abroad) and started sharing it. The people who received it also started sharing it,” Twine said.
Social media was last month awash with reports that President Museveni who had allegedly been admitted to Aga Khan Hospital in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi had passed on.
The reports started by mostly bloggers outside the country attracted the attention of many Ugandans especially those on social media.
However, President Museveni a day later appeared at the opening of the virtual health summit.
Addressing journalists on Monday, the CID spokesperson warned bloggers against sharing such information that is not verified, noting that it might lead to their arrest.
“In our culture when you announce someone dead and you are not from their family or personal doctor or official spokesperson of the institution where he works, society condemns you as one who is indisciplined. To us the law enforcement agencies, we take up the matter as a crime. When you share that information ignorantly, you may also be charged,” Twine said.
“Desist from sharing such unfounded information on social media. We are still looking for many other people(who shared that information). Together with Crime Intelligence, we are looking for those people.”
Warns Lumbuye, other bloggers
According to Twine, investigations have indicated that some of the people behind the messages announcing prominent persons dead are scheming to get asylum in countries abroad but said security will soon bust their plans.
“Some of these things are done as a scheme especially those outside the country to create grounds to get asylum. People like Lumbuye(Fred) take these things casual to spread fake news of the death of other persons but the different jurisdictions have been notified by police and diplomatic protocols that they should not be granted asylum on ground that they are facing political persecution. If they are to do so, they should base on other reasons,” Twine said.
“There are plans to go through police protocols like regional and international treaties to arrest them.
The law as provided for under section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act section 25 indicates that any person who communicates in a manner that ridicules or offends a person without any justification commits and offence. They will be charged under this law.”
President Museveni last week directed security agencies to go after social media users who spread the news of his death recently.
“The security service needs to also solve that problem. I need to check with them so that we locate quickly those who tell such a story because you waste people’s time. We should go for you. We should locate where you are and go for you. If you’re in Europe, we denounce you and say go to hell,” he said.
As part of its efforts to curtail what was termed as “gossip” government in 2018 introduced the “Over the Top Tax” also known as social media tax.
The tax was however scrapped earlier this month after government realised it had failed to achieve its intended targets.
In the run to the 2021 general elections, government shut down internet to help deal with anticipated violence during the polls.
Whereas other social media platforms were opened, Facebook remains closed in Uganda and the public uses Virtual Private Networks to access the platform.