By Edris Kiggundu
The former executive director of Bank of Uganda in charge of supervision, Justine Bagyenda has registered a complaint with CID, regarding media reports about her financial transactions, the Daily Monitor reported today.
In a nutshell Bagyenda wants CID to investigate 12 media houses and bring “them to order” and to scare them from scrutinising her financial dealings.
Already some of the editors of the media houses have reportedly been served with summons.
It is Bagyenda’s right to seek recourse and justice if she feels aggrieved. My issue is how she has chosen to go about it.
The media houses that published her financial details did not steal the documents from the banks where Bagyenda held accounts.
The documents were leaked to the public and once it was ascertained that they were genuine, the media just simply played its watchdog role by shining a light on them.
The overriding issue to publish the information was public interest given the fact that Bagyenda held a senior position in the central bank.
As executive director of commercial bank supervision, she rightly asked banks tough questions because she was working in the interest of the public (bank customers).
In the same vein, when the media houses ask tough questions of her transactions, they are acting in public interest.
Doesn’t the public, on whose taxes the central bank is funded, deserve to know how an official can accumulate so much money on their account within a short time?
Many public officials, once put under the harsh spotlight by the media usually try to intimidate media houses or individual journalists.
This has happened countless times in Uganda and elsewhere.
Their intention is not really to seek justice but to try to divert public attention way from the scrutiny.
Sadly, many of these officials tend to use state security apparatus to achieve their aims. But it never lasts for long.
If Bagyenda really wanted justice, she would have taken on the banks which she entrusted her financial information.
Indeed, some of the banks have even confirmed that members of their staff leaked the information related to her financial details and that they were disciplined.
Bagyenda would not have taken on the messengers (media houses), who were trying to do their jobs.
What Bagyenda has done is akin to a husband quarreling with the wife and then deciding to lash at the child, who was watching from a safe distance.
Bagyenda has chosen to fight the media houses, not the banks.
It is a war where she might register some short term gains (as in scaring some media houses from shinning a light on her) but ultimately she will emerge loser.
I know Bagyenda, may choose to sue after reading this. But having been a journalist for more than a decade, I guess I will just accept it as a job hazard and move on.
The author is the Editor of The Nile Post
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