KIGALI - A former journalist of The New Times who has been going around extorting money by blackmail was finally arrested Wednesday evening in Kigali. Godwin Agaba, popularly known as “historical”, was fired last year for unprofessional behaviour.
He was caught red-handed in a joint Police-The New Times sting as he was receiving a bribe from local businessman, Emile Havugimana, the proprietor of Impala Hotel.
“He threatened me with an untrue and defamatory story that you [The New Times] would publish if I did not give him money,” explained a very relieved Havugimana.
Agaba had approached the hotelier posing as an employee of The New Times and demanding Frw 100,000 to stop a purportedly scandalous story on the businessman.
“He claimed that we do not pay our workers, often calling them ‘Interahamwe’ as an excuse to fire them without pay,” Havugimana said this worried him very much because it would affect his hotel’s image.
Earlier on that day, Havugimana had been informed a relative by, Jean-Claude Habyarimana, that he had a defamatory story about Havugimana which he was going to publish.
Alarmed, Habyarimana called and informed Havugimana about the worrying development urging him to meet with Agaba for ‘an immediate settlement’.
A quick witted but worried Havugimana agreed to meet with Agaba and settle the issue. However, after listening to Agaba’s story and demands, he immediately drove to TNT offices to protest his innocence only to be informed that Agaba had been fired long ago.
He was also informed that it was not the first time Agaba had been involved in such tactics though he had never been apprehended. Both parties then decided to call the police and lay an elaborate trap.
Havugimana then returned to his office, called Agaba and gave in to his demands. Agaba had asked for and was given an initial payment of Frw 50,000, he would receive the remainder after three days. What he did not know was that the money was marked. Police immediately arrested him with the money still in his pockets.
“We very much thank and appreciate efforts by people who inform us of such crimes,” the District Police Commander in Nyarugenge District, Dismas Rutaganira, told The New Times He called upon people to always be vigilant and help by reporting similar incidents to the police.
“We hope this exposure will help people to know how to deal with cheats posing as journalists,” said Ignatius Kabagambe, Managing Editor of The New Times.
“When we parted ways last year, it was over this cardinal journalistic principle; being a society watchdog, we can not afford to have one of our own involved in dubious activities”, explained Kabagambe.
“It did not occur to us though, that he would carry on with his games even after he had left. His unethical conduct has proved to be a result of personal character rather than inexperience in the trade”.
Agaba worked for Umuseso newspaper, a Kinyarwanda weekly before joining The New Times last year. He was fired after a very short stay.
Another victim of Agaba’s treachery, a pastor in Kigali, scared Agaba off when he called The New Times and reported his behaviour. The Pastor had been threatened with allegations of rape but Agaba escaped punishment.