At Lugogo in Kampala, where he conducts prayers every Tuesday, Prophet Elvis Mbonye of the Zoe Fellowship Ministries (ZFM) walks with a swagger as he delivers his sermons.
However, yesterday, when he faced the Police’s acting commissioner in charge of the media crimes department, Henry Mugumya, at the Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) headquarters at Kibuli in Kampala, he was stone-faced, in a small office glued to a wooden chair in front of an empty table.
Mbonye was interrogated for about five hours over allegations that he discouraged parents from taking their children for immunization against three killer diseases: measles, rubella, and polio, recently.
The national immunization drive, which targeted children aged 15 years and below, will run until early next month. Mbonye was summoned a fortnight ago, following a complaint lodged by the health ministry, but he was unable to respond to the summons reportedly because he was abroad.
Immediately he jetted in yesterday, Mbonye, clad in a black tracksuit, reported to CIID, to avoid arrest today, according to the Police.
Mbonye arrived at CIID aboard a dark blue Prado vehicle registration number UAS 684Y at about 3:00 pm, in the company of his lawyer and five assistants. He went to the commissioner’s office. He emerged from the office at close to 8:00 pm.
According to the CIID public relations officer, Charles Mansio Twine, Mbonye was granted Police bond, and ordered to go back tomorrow, to assist the Police with investigations.
Twine said the Police on October 17, summoned Mbonye, following complaints that he posted on social media misleading information about the vaccination exercise being carried out by the health ministry.
“We engaged his ushers, who told us that he was out of the country, but we told them that he should report to CIID when he comes back which he has abided to,” he said.
According to Twine, Mbonye said he never wanted to do any activity in Uganda before answering the summons, which is why he went to meet Mugumya. Twine said Mbonye was interviewed in the presence of his lawyer and a statement recorded from him.
Mbonye faces criminal charges under Section 23 (i) (ii) of the Immunisation Act.
According to the Act, a person shall not make, cause to be made or publish any misleading statement or information regarding the use or effect of any vaccines.
A person who contravenes this section, on conviction, pays a fine not exceeding 48 currency points (sh960,000) or faces imprisonment not exceeding two years or both fine and imprisonment.
Mbonye’s assistants yesterday declined to comment on the matter when NewVision sought to speak to them.
Mbonye allegedly criticized the immunization campaign through social media posts saying the vaccines were not a good way to maintain health.
“The Government cares about you being vaccinated. No, they do not necessarily care about the negative effects of the vaccination or your concern…”
“… But evidence shows, even globally, that vaccines are not a good way to maintain health. Why? What is the big motivator … to push vaccines like a drug dealer pushing illegal drugs on the parents arrested?”