JamiiForums boss held over refusal to identify members

Wednesday December 14 2016

The co-founder of JamiiForums, Mr Maxence Melo,

The co-founder of JamiiForums, Mr Maxence Melo, was arrested for allegedly declining to disclose the identities of contributors who allegedly posted on sensitive information on his social media platform. PHOTO|FILE 

By Louis Kolumbia @Collouis1999 lkolumbia@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. The co-founder of JamiiForums, Mr Maxence Melo, was arrested yesterday for allegedly declining to disclose the identities of contributors who allegedly posted on sensitive information on his social media platform.

Mr Melo’s lawyer Benedict Ishabakaki said his client was arrested over what the police claimed was his failure to appear in court for a case filed against Jamii Media, the company, which owns JamiiForums, a popular whistle-blowing online platform in the country.

The case, which Mr Melo apparently has no knowledge of, was lodged at the High Court, accusing him of declining to reveal the identity of the subscribers who allegedly posted sensitive information on the online forum, according to Mr Ishabakaki.

“The police called me yesterday (Monday) and advised me to tell him to report to the police station today (yesterday), where after he arrived he was immediately arrested,” Mr Ishabakaki noted.

Mr Ishabakaki explained that he was surprised to hear his client has been held, while a similar case had been filed in March at the High Court and judgement was scheduled for February 22 next year.

In the current case, the police allege that for the past three months they have been writing to the company management, demanding the disclosure of the names of individuals providing sensitive information.

Advertisement

“They claim what has been posted, include the theft of fuel at the Dar es Salaam Port, corruption in public offices and tax evasion. Probably, those named in the reports complained to the police, wanting the disclosure of the names of subscribers,” he said, while on his way to Dar es Salaam from Zanzibar.

In the Case No 9 of 2016, Jamii Media asks the High Court to review sections that violate the rights of people using the social media contrary to Articles (26)(2) and (30)(3) of the Union Constitution, 1977.

The Cybercrimes Act, 2015 allow law enforcers investigating criminal cases to seek the disclosure of information from any person in possession of it. When called for comment, Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander Simon Siro declined to say anything on the issue. Instead, he told this reporter that he would speak about it on Friday.