KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Kampala City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has sued the government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo seeking compensation of Shillings 500 million for cruel, degrading, and inhumane treatment during their recent appearance on the Frontline, a topical show on NBS television.
In his application before the High Court Civil Division, Lukwago contends that on July 28th, 2022, he was physically attacked, manhandled, and battered by Ofwono while appearing on the Frontline as one of the panelists. According to Lukwago, he suffered physiological torture, trauma, and physical pain when Ofwono, who is the director of the government-owned Uganda Media Center charged at him and threatened to evict him from the studios before punching and kicking him in the chest and stomach.
“That the applicant as the Lord Mayor of Kampala and Advocate of the High Court of Uganda was subjected to ridicule, odium, and denigration by the action and conduct of the respondent/Ofwono,” says Lukwago in his application. Lukwago claims that Ofwono charged at him out of the blue during the show and threatened to evict him from the studio and in no minute, pushed his hand into the pocket and around his west in a manner that suggested that he wanted to draw a pistol at him.
“Thereafter, the Respondent/Ofwono pounced on my neck and attempted to strangle me, kicked me in the stomach, and grabbed my jacket as he pulled me from my chair,” says Lukwago. Lukwago further contends that he maintained his cool and tried not to engage in a fist fight but concentrated on shielding his face with his palms.
He explains that it took the intervention of the moderator of the show Charles Mwangusha, and other panelists Winnie Kiiza, the former leader of the opposition in parliament, and Chris Baryomunsi, the ICT Minister to restrain Ofwono from further assault.
The evidence submitted to court on flash disks shows that the show ended prematurely as Ofwono was shouting at the top of his voice that he was going to finish Lukwago in the corridors of the building as he called unknown people for reinforcement until when NBS management put the Lord Mayor in some room to shield him from further attack and advised him not to leave without security.
Lukwago explains that the DPC Kira Road Police Station together with his operations commander Aden Muzawula showed up with several police officers and liaised with Baryomunsi to evacuate him to his home at 1am. He contends that OfwonO violated his rights to liberty and subjected him to ridicule for which he wants compensation.
Lukwago wants the court to declare that the actions of Ofwono while on air lowered his reputation in the eyes of the right-thinking members of society and as the current Lord Mayor, High Court Advocate, Vice President Forum for Democratic Change-FDC, former MP, and former Shadow Attorney General in 8th Parliament. The Lord Mayor also wants the court to order Ofwono to offer him a public apology.
The high court is yet to summon Ofwono to file his defense before the case is allocated to a judge to fix its hearing. Prior to filing this application, Lukwago filed a criminal case against Ofwono at Kira Road Police Station. This is not the first time that Lukwago is suing for compensation for cruel and degrading treatment.
In December 2017, he sued the government after being arrested by police in front of his house, which he argued subjected him to cruelty and inhumane treatment when the officers squeezed his private parts. In May 2020, Justice Henrietta Wolayo awarded Lukwago Shillings 50million.
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