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Monday, August 8, 2022

IT’S MY RIGHT TO CALL YOU A FOOL: Chaos as Legal Rebel Ssemakadde ‘Undresses’ Former Teacher MP Nsereko on Live TV

NTV Uganda’s On the Spot show was chaotic last night as ‘legal rebel’ Isaac Ssemakadde took on his former teacher and Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko. 

Background

This week, Nsereko was granted leave by Parliament to introduce a law on cyber-harassment which prescribes hefty fines, lengthy jail terms, a ban from holding public office and loss of office for convicted offenders.

Clause 2 of the Bill seeks to punish individuals who “without authorization, accesses, intercepts another person’s data or information, voice or records another person” with a fine of Shs15 million or up to 10 years in jail or both imprisonment and fine.

Sending and sharing data about children without the authorisation of their parents or guardians on a computer and by extension social media, will become an offense punishable by seven years jail term, Shs15 million in fines or both, should clause 3 of the Bill be enacted into law.

Sending unsolicited messages to computer users will be criminalised under clause 4 of the Bill, an offence that Nsereko proposes should be punished by a seven year jail term, a fine of Shs15 million or both imprisonment and fine.

“A person shall not send to or share with another person unsolicited information through a computer,” reads clause 5(1). Sub clause 2 prescribes the penalty.

Sharing of “misleading or malicious information about or relating to any person through a computer” is to be criminalised under clause 5 of the Bill, with a Shs15 million fine or a seven year jail term or both such imprisonment and fine.

The Bill also seeks to bar individuals who have been convicted of the offences relating to this Bill from holding public offices or losing it for those already in office.
“A person who is convicted under this Act shall not be eligible to hold a public office for a period of 10 years. Where a person convicted under this Act is a leader or public officer, he or she shall, in addition to the prescribed punishment, be dismissed from or vacate office,” reads clause 6 of the Bill.

Nsereko said the Bill is necessitated by increasing cyber-harassment and abuses that he said go unpunished.
“Without strengthening the existing legislation with stringent measures to address the gaps, the technological abuse with its grave impact on health, human relations and society at large, will continue to escalate the violation of the right to privacy,” he said.

Nsereko said for likes and views on social media sites, unscrupulous individuals blackmail innocents, sometimes for money, a vice he said must be nipped in the bud.

Clash on NTV 

It was against that background that Patrick Kamara invited Nsereko and Ssemakadde of the Legal Brains Trust to discuss the merits of the proposed cyber law.

But the discussion turned chaotic with Nsereko referring to his former student Ssemakadde as ‘this young man’ and the ‘legal rebel’ telling his former teacher he shouldn’t take away voters’ rights to call politicians ‘fools.’

Kamara would end the show prematurely after many commercial breaks that characterized the Thursday night faceoff.

Here are some of the excerpts from the show:

Nsereko: For state actors, no one without the authority of the court shall have the power to intercept any of your communications. There is something wrong if you think sharing pictures of a minor is right and you want to dialogue about it.

Ssemakadde: Hon. Nsereko flags off minors and a few images and you ask yourself if he is aware of the existing laws. Hacking is already a criminal offence under the computer misuse act.

Nsereko: Just like technology, even laws evolve. They evolve according to the circumstances surrounding society.

Ssemakadde: The government must pass a high burden when it wants to regulate speech. It must state the problem that speech has caused and the exact measure tailored to address that problem.

I think it is about time my former teacher [Hon Nsereko] for you to reflect on your political journey because you have in this monologue shown us the beginning of the fall of the hope of the generation that Nsereko once led.

Nsereko: I taught him. He was a good young man. I’m older than him. This young man.

Ssemakadde:… a young man in shock. Shocked about your degradation. 

Ssemakadde: We want our right to call you a fool, a dimwit and a stupid man.

Ssemakadde: Hon. Nsereko has forgotten that he must legislate for constitutional democracy. He wants to be the headmaster of our speech, he wants the state to appoint a headmaster for what we say and how to say it.

FULL VIDEO: Watch ‘Legal Rebel’ Ssemakadde Clash with MP Nsereko on NTV on the Spot

Additional Reporting: Parliament of Uganda

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