The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has suspended the broadcasting license of Radio Hoima.
Escorted by two police officers, UCC officials went to the radio station on Saturday at about mid-day and ordered management to switch it off air, according to witnesses.
The radio station which is located on Wright Road in Hoima town has been broadcasting on the 88.6 FM frequency.
In a May 25, 2017 letter addressed to the Radio Hoima managing director, the UCC Executive Director Mr Godfrey Mutabazi indicated that the communications regulatory body had received numerous complaints about some of the unprofessional programmes being aired on the radio.
According to Mr Mutabazi, the complainants have expressed concern that Radio Hoima hosts members of BUKITAREPA, a pro-Bunyoro heritage group, who allegedly make sectarian statements aimed at inciting the Banyoro against immigrant tribes especially the Bakiga.
Mr Mutabazi said in the letter that the Commission reviewed the content of the programmes and confirmed that the content is sectarian and promotes violence and ethnic prejudice amongst the public, contrary to the minimum broadcasting standards contrary to Section 31 and Schedule 4 of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013.
“In light of this serious breach and in accordance with Section 41 of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013, the Commission hereby suspends your broadcasting license as further investigations into the matter are being carried out,” Mr Mutabazi’s letter reads in part.
He directed Radio Hoima to cease operations with immediate effect and provide recordings of all programmes where the radio station has hosted members of BUKITAREPA in the last 60 days.
“Please note that should the Commission not receive any representations from Radio Hoima within the period of sixty days from receipt of this letter, the Commission shall proceed to commence the revocation of the radio broadcasting licence of Radio Hoima in accordance with section 41 of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013,” the letter reads.
The management of Radio Hoima did not issue a statement about the suspension of the licence.
However, a source at the radio that asked to remain anonymous because he had not been authorised to discuss the matter with journalists said management would cooperate with UCC during the ongoing investigations.
“We have agreed to provide the recordings which UCC wants,” he said.
The Hoima District NRM publicity secretary Mr Mugenyi Mulindambura warned UCC against breaching freedom of speech and expression by cracking down a radio that hosted BUKITAREPA, an agency that is licensed by the government.
“BUKITAREPA is explaining past injustices that have persisted to date. The 1900 Buganda agreement allocated land in Buyaga and Bugangaizi to the Baganda. Today, Government is compensating the some Baganda absentee landlords and resettling people from south western Uganda on the land,” Mr Mulindambura, who is also the Hoima District secretary of education, said.
He asked Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom to rally political and religious leaders to pressurise UCC to lift the suspension with immediate effect.
Ethnic tensions have been rising in Bunyoro region ever since an audio was played on local radio stations where an unidentified man was reportedly urging his Bakiga tribe mates to allow their daughters to get married to Banyoro men in order kill them later by adding poison to their food.