Makerere lecturers condemn threats on Spire’s life, demand IGP’s action

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Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) has condemned the ‘renewed’ threats against renowned cartoonist and their member, Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo’s life.

This comes hours after Spire, through a long post on X (formerly Twitter) revealed that he had received threats on his life.

In the post, Spire stated that he had been informed that some elements had been hired to trail his movements, with intentions of causing harm to his life.

All this comes in the wake of ongoing social media campaign dubbed “Uganda Parliament Exhibition” led by Spire and other whistleblowers which has exposed some legislators and top leaders at the Parliament for ‘participating’ in gross corruption and abuse of office.

In a March 20 statement co-signed by MUASA’s chairman Robert Kakuru and general secretary Jude Ssempebwa, the association has condemned all threats and intentions of causing harm on its member, Spire.

MUASA, an umbrella body for all academic staff at the university, says threatening Spire for his advocacy against corruption in his course of work as a senior lecturer is not only unfair but also against his academic freedom.

“We take strong exceptions to these threats and reiterate Dr Ssentongo’s academic freedom and other freedoms, enshrined, inter alia, in Chapter four of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda,” MUASA stated.

Quoting Article 3 of the Kampala Declaration of Intellectual Freedom and Social Responsibility 1990, the academicians’ association demands that Ssentongo be allowed to exercise his freedom to intellectual work or opinions without threat of harm.

“An attack on Dr Ssentongo’s academic freedom is an attack on academic freedom of all members of MUASA and other academics of the world,” the statement reads.

MUASA also asked the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and relevant authorities to intervene and ensure that Spire continues to do his intellectual work without being threatened or targetted.

“Therefore, MUASA demands that the Inspector General of Police, Chairperson of the Joint Forces Command of Uganda, and other relevant local, national, regional and international agencies take immediate and concrete steps to afford Dr. ssentongo the protection he requires from any threats to his life and work.” MUASA demanded.

Spire fears for his life

On Tuesday, Spire said his life was in danger after alleging that he had been made aware that ‘Parliament’ had secretly asked Uganda Communication Commission for all his communication details, adding “the job has started including tracing who I talk to, what, when, where, where I stay, the time of day/night I last communicate, movements, etc.”

“This may include intentions to harm me,” he added.

He has since gone silent on social media.

Spire has in recent years been spearheading social media campaigns which have shed light on the issues pressing the citizens.

From the pothole exhibition, to health exhibition and civil society exhibition to the ongoing Parliament exhibition, Ugandans have used these platforms to advocate for better services and proper accountability of the tax payers’ money.

The exhibition spearheaded alongside other activists like Godwin Tooko, Agather Atuhaire exposed alleged extravagance and abuse of office at the Parliament.

The issues raised in the social media campaign ranged from unexplained and exorbitant cash transactions in the name of per diem and travel allowances to irregular appointments at the institution.

Some observers believe that some government big wigs’ fears’ about the direction the social media campaign was taking, could have orchestrated the threats against Spire.

However, in his long post, ‘unapologetic’ Spire said silencing his life would not stop other concerned Ugandans from standing up against injustices and demanding for accountability.

“Even if you kill Spire today, it will only multiply Spires and anger. More aggressive Spires will rise to avenge. Even if Spire keeps quiet, it won’t stop the brewing anger, facilitated by your arrogance, greed, abuse of citizens’ good will, extravagance, and beastly indifference. Address the pains of the people instead of seeking to gag and destroy them.” he posted on X.

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