The Uganda Police Force on Wednesday said, Human Rights lawyer Nicholas Opio, will remain in detention as investigations into alleged charges of money laundering slapped against him proceed despite pleas for his release.
Nicholas Opiyo was on Tuesday picked up by men in plain cloth from a restaurant in Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb where he had reportedly gone for lunch, handcuffed, and placed into a saloon car before it sped off to an unknown destination. His arrest however sparked public outrage especially on social media with individuals and Civil Society groups demanding for answers from security in regard to his whereabouts.
Police later stated that Nicholas Opio was arrested by a Joint Task team of Security and Financial Intelligence, on allegations of money laundering and related malicious acts and detained at Police Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Kireka. The pleas continued through Wednesday as a section of the public demanded for the unconditional release of the lawyer.
In the latest update posted on official social media platforms late Wednesday evening, police stated that Nicholas Opio and the co-accused will continue to be held in custody as the force “deepens investigations” on charges preferred against him.
“We would like to further inform the public that the Task Team actively investigating Lawyer Nicholas Opio and others for violating anti-Money laundering rules has deepened its investigations into the preliminary findings”. Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga stated.
“In addition, our Forensic teams are analyzing exhibits that have been recovered so far. The suspects still remain in our custody at the Special Investigations Division Kireka” Enanga adds.
All through Wednesday, police remained tight-lipped on the matter as demands for the lawyer’s release intensified.
“Finally we got to see @nickopiyo. He’s upbeat and totally unfazed by the allegations against him. Unfortunately the authorities didn’t agree to release him. Let’s persist in the campaign to #FreeNicholasOpiyo unconditionally” Democratic Party president and flagbearer Nobert Mao tweeted late in the evening.
Mao also posted a photograph of himself, Kasese Woman MP Winnie Kiiza and Nicholas Opiyo taken at Kireka Police SIU headquarters.
Earlier, it was reported that Opio was taken to his home for a police search of his residence in which an assortment of documents were seized.
The Executive Director and a lead advocate at Chapter Four Uganda, Nicholas Opio made a name as social critic and a human right’s defender. His interviews in media have often drawn a backlash with the government, accusing him of working for foreign interests.