KIGALI - A romantic relationship that involves a renowned city lawyer, a prominent female physician and an employee at Soras has served to expose the true character of a local journalist who for a long time has tried portray himself as an anti-corruption crusader Sunday Times can reveal.
According to reliable information from Police, it all unfolded last month at the office of the lawyer when the lady employee of the insurance company was tipped off that her rival ,the medic, was meeting with the prosecutor at his office in Kimihurura.
The insurer allegedly attacked the couple like a raging bull causing chaos at the lawyer’s offices.
The concubines had to be separated from each by the lawyer’s workmates.
Sunday Times has established that the women are not officially married to the man, but cannot reveal the names of the trio as it can hamper ongoing police investigations.
Days after the fight, the enraged Soras employee enlisted the services of renowned journalist Assouman Niyonambaza, the publisher and Editor-in-Chief of a vernacular tabloid, Rugari, to write an article in his publication smearing her rival and paid a hefty amount up front.
But before the story could be published, Niyonambaza thought he had an opportunity to extort money from the very woman he had been hired to damage.
On realizing that the story could injure her reputation, the medic panicked and requested a friend to connect her to Richard Rutagwenda (one of the accused) an employee of Gasabo District in charge of Mutuelle de sante.
It’s now understood that it was Rutagwenda who connected local radio host Frank Kalisa to entice Niyonambaza to kill the story.
The agreed upon price struck between the medic and her go-betweens for spiking the story came down to Rwf 500,000.
A police source yesterday told Sunday Times that during the negotiations, Kalisa and Rutagwenda inflated the price with the intention of keeping the difference. They offered Niyonambaza Rwf 200,000.
The two gentlemen believed they were double crossing Niyonambaza, but what they did not know was that the Rugali boss was extorting money from the two rival women.
Meanwhile, Kalisa, Rutagwenda and Niyonambaza never realized that in the process the lady had double crossed them by reporting the matter to the police.
Police swung into action and installed surveillance cameras in order to capture the moment when money would be exchanging hands.
Niyonambaza was arrested red-handed receiving the money on July 2 while his alleged accomplices were arrested shortly after.
“We have video, photographic and audio evidence against the suspects,” said John Uwamungu, police spokesperson.
Media fraternity speaks out
Senior media practitioners were deeply affected by the unwanted spotlight on their profession.
“Any action that would be taken against them if they are found guilty will be a signal to all practitioners in the country,” the president Rwanda Editors’ Forum, Jean Bosco Rushingabigwi said.
He added that the forum intends to ‘disassociate’ itself from the journalists if it is proven in court that they committed the crime.
He added that the issue calls for a refresher course on media ethics.
“Surely if these guys are proven guilty, it should be considered a terrorism case against the society… using their jobs and influence to intimidate people!” adds Rushingabigwi, who also heads the Kigali-based Great Lakes Media Centre.
Shyaka Kanuma, a Publisher of Focus Newspaper was equally not happy.
“It is a reflection of general desperation and poverty among some media practitioners in the country; the media sector is growing like other sectors in the country, so I have hope that these issues will be ironed out with time.”
Patrice Mulama, the Executive Secretary of the Media High Council said that he is following up the issue closely and strongly condemns any attempts of extortion by journalists.
“No decision can be taken at the moment but the new media law that is yet to be approved states clearly that if a journalist is convicted and sentenced to a prison term of more than six months, he or she cannot hold some managerial posts.”
Precisely this implies that if Niyonambaza is convicted to over six months, he may cease to head Rugari newspaper.
Niyonambaza served in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and spent seven years in jail on charges of Genocide.
Niyonambaza’s latest saga did not come as a surprise to those who know him, and it was only a matter of time before he ran out of luck.
Reliable sources reported that Niyonambaza had told acquaintances that the questions brought to the attention of the President during press conferences, have a price tag , and they don’t come cheap.
Many people who had unresolved issues, usually in administration, paid some unscrupulous journalists to bring the issue before the Head of State, which they were sure would the necessary attention.
The trio is being held at Kigali Central Prison as they wait for their fate to be decided by court on August 7.