Kampala, 6 January 2019: A South Sudan government Minister was among the 17 arrested individual in the capital Kampala by Ugandan police according to Kampala Metropolitan spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire.
According to the Kampala Metropolitan spokesperson Mr. Owoyesigyire, the war-torn country's Minister whose identity was withheld by the police was among the 17 suspects arrested on Saturday evening in a bar on allegations of smoking tobacco in public places.
However, Mr. Owoyesigyire says after the suspect identifies himself as a minister from South Sudan, he was later released from detention to avoid diplomatic war between Kampala and Juba.
Police in Kampala said the suspects, the unnamed minister was released from Kabalagala police Division cell on Sunday morning after he [the minister] has identified himself as a minister from South Sudan.
Police in Kampala on Sunday declined to state whether the unidentified South Sudanese minister will be produced in the court, while sources within Ugandan police say he might not be taken to court in order to avoid ruining the diplomatic relationship between the two capitals.
The 17 suspects including the unnamed South Sudanese Minister were picked after the Police raided Kampala Forest, De Posh and Savanah bars on Saturday evening.
Mr. Owoyesigyire said the other suspects are to be arraigned in court on Monday on charges of selling and smoking tobacco contrary to Section 16 (7) of the Tobacco Control Act.
According to the Tobacco Control Act, a person convicted of smoking or selling tobacco in a public area is liable to a jail term not less than one year or a fine of Shs480,000. an equivalent of 120 euro or 130 US$
The owner of the bar in which the tobacco was smoked can be fined Shs20m [4800 euro or 5000 US$] and his or her license suspended for at least six months.
Since the war broke out in world youngest nation in 2013, many corrupt government officials from South Sudan have moved their families into urban cities in Uganda, Kenya, they have been living luxurious lives with stolen public funds while millions of impoverished South Sudanese are living in abject poverty.
Opio Okello Onen