Every week, through the weekly Thursday political show called The Frontline, NBS Television serves Ugandans who love political punditry right when panelists discuss topical issues that have dominated national headlines in the week.
In the wake of Norbert Mao hobnobbing with President Yoweri Museveni and the ugly scenes that trekked in from the Soroti City East by-elections, The Frontline was a must-watch for many Ugandans who have access televisions and actually enjoy the show.
On set this Thursday was Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, sitting on the left of the TV picture. After Lukwago, moving clockwise was government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo who sat next to former Kasese district woman MP Winnie Kizza.
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The other panelist was ICT minister Chris Baryomunsi who neighbored the show’s moderator Charles Mwanguhya. And after the usual introductions, the show took off and the first topic on the card was the Soroti City East by-election – the winner of that by-election, Herbert Edmund Ariko had just been announced by the returning officer in Soroti, Christine Eyu.
Lukwago’s party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) had spent the whole complaining of vote theft, ballot stuffing, police and military brutality against their candidate and party members. FDC president was among the over 50 FDC supporters arrested by police.
Lukwago had been in Soroti on Wednesday to campaign for FDC’s candidate Moses Okia Attan. He also conducted a training of polling agents ahead of the voting day on Thursday. And following the defeat as pronounced by the electoral commission, like many FDC supporters, Lukwago, calm as always, had been angered by the actions of the entire voting process and the results.
And as the debate was ongoing, a verbal altercation between Lukwago and Opondo ensued; efforts by Mwangusya to have the men stabilize fell on deaf ears precisely those of Opondo who stood up and threatened to throw Lord Mayor out of the studio. At that point, the show’s producer prematurely ended the show and the viewers were cut off.
Unsure of what transpired after, the public could only guess and speculate. Some media houses started reporting that Opondo had indeed turned physical and slapped Lukwago- it was hard to verify this information as NBS was tightlipped at the time. The broadcaster later apologized and condemned the fracas.
It was later Friday afternoon that the public started getting somewhat factual glimpses of information on what transpired when the show was brought to an immature end. Lukwago was at a police station making a statement. He had dragged Opondo to the police. Thereafter, Lukwago made public detailing what happened. We reproduce it below.
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A FULL ACCOUNT OF MR. OFWONO OPONDO’S CRIME OF UTMOST SAVAGERY AT THE NBS TV FRONTLINE TALKSHOW.
Last night, I happened to be a Panelist at the NBS TV Talkshow that runs from 10:00pm to midnight. The debate was about the sham Soroti East Member of Parliament By-election. Midway the debate, hell broke loose when the Government Spokesperson, who is a regular Panelist (Frontliner) on the show, ran berserk and started throwing tantrums. Out of the blue, he sprung up, charged at me and threatened to evict me from the studios. He pushed his hand into the pocket and around his waist, in a manner that suggested he wanted to draw a pistol at me.
I dared him to shoot at me. He instead pounced on my neck and attempted to strangle me. I did not fight back but instead struggled to wriggle out of his grip. He them punched me in the chest and grabbed both collars of my jacket while huffing and puffing like a cobra. The Moderator, Charles Mwangushya moved in to restrain him but to no avail. He was joined by a Co-Panelist, the Hon. Winnie Kiiza, former Leader of Opposition but the now wild Opondo would not relent as he continued to maul me, while battering and kicking me in the stomach.
Being civilized and mindful of the law of unintended consequences, which could turn out to be catastrophic, I chose not to engage in a fist fight. I instead concentrated on shielding my face with both palms. It was at this moment that another Panelist, the Hon. Chris Baryomunsi, Minister for ICT and National Guidance, who had all along been witnessing the melodrama, joined the duo to prevail over a rampaging Opondo.
The Talkshow ended prematurely and Opondo was shouting at the top of his voice that he was going to finish me off in the corridors of NBS TV or outside the building. He made frantic calls to people I did not understand, requesting for “reinforcement.”
The DPC, Kira Road Police Station, Ssebuyungo, together with the Commander Operations, Aden Muzawula, entered appearance with several police personnel. They made arrangements with Hon. Baryomunsi to escort me back home.
Today morning, I went to Kira Road Police Station and opened up a Criminal Case before the O.C C.I.D and other Police Officers. I also moved to NBS and met with the Management to secure the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage of the said ugly scene but my efforts are yet to yield positive results. In my language, we have an old adage that; “Olaba nkaabira mubikire, naye ate ankutukidde mungalo…!!!”
I will stop at nothing in search for Justice. In addition to the aforesaid criminal proceedings, civil action will also be pursued in Courts of Law in an effort to deal with impunity in our country.
For God and my Country