Rwandan journalist arrested over tax evasion story
Ivan R. Mugisha, a Kigila-based correspondent with Nation Media-owned The East African newspaper has been arrested by the Rwanda National Police over a story he authored last week, Afrika Reporter has learnt.
An eye-witness told this website Mr. Mugisha was picked at the newspaper’s premises Wenesday evening by police officers accompanied by members of Rwanda Media Council.
“At around 5pm police led by one Richard Iyaremye, stormed into The offices of The East African in Kigali with guns, they ordered everybody to stay where they were, they searched and confiscated computers, no one could even use the toilet or enter or leave the offices for about one hour,” the eye-witness said on condition of anonymity.
The reliable source told this website the police came looking for Mugisha and his colleague Johnson Kanamugire but the latter was not present at the office. Mugisha was being held at Remera police station in Kigali.
Another eye-witness said the police showed up with a search warrant but instead ended up arresting the reporter.
Mr. Mugisha and his fellow reporters have been covering the tax evasion saga involving Rwanda’s premier stone quarry, Rusororo Aggregate Ltd. The quarry which is co-owned by Fusion Capital, Kenyan equity firm.
Rusororo Aggregate is battling Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) in the courts over charges of ‘cooking the books’ to evade taxes. The company is accused of forging loss receipts of about Rwf1.2 billion ($1.6 million) to dodge taxes.
Afrika Reporter has further learnt that Rwandan businessman and Fusion Capital executive in Rwanda is believed to be behind the journalist’s arrest although this website can not confirm the allegation. The Nairobi-based The East African is renown for its critical reporting about the Rwandan government and institutions, top government officials have often lashed at its reporters.
Although Rwanda has registered noticeable progress in many sectors since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, according to press freedom watchdogs,the country still performs poorly on freedom of the press and expression metrics.
A number of reporters have been jailed, made to disappear, and many have fled to exile for safety. Self censorship is common amongst journalists in Rwanda.
Efforts to get a comment from the police and The East African were fruitless by press time