Mr Nicholas Opiyo, the Executive Director of Chapter Four Uganda has said his trip to the United States of America came at a time when he needed a break following a difficult end of 2020 and a tumultuous 2021.
Mr Opiyo had been accused of fraudulently receiving a sum of $340,000 (Shs1.2 billion) through the Chapter Four Uganda account in ABSA Bank. The state said that the money was proceeds of crime and he was subsequently arraigned before the courts and remanded to Kitalya Prison.
The state then froze Chapter Four Uganda’s bank accounts on allegations of funding terrorism, before closing the organisation together with 53 other Non-Governmental Organizations over alleged failure to comply with regulations governing their operations. A few weeks ago, the charges against Opiyo were dismissed by the court.
On Monday night, Opiyo announced that he left the country and taken residence at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy in the United States of America (USA). Opiyo who travelled to the USA on September 13, after charges against him were dropped, says that he left in a haste for his safety.
Mr Opiyo said that he has been admitted for a year-long Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy, at a time when he needed much rest. He dismissed claims that he had fled to exile.
“The fellowship came at a time when I need time away for rest and respite following a difficult end of 2020 and a tumultuous 2021. I will use my time here to do research, move forward with my book project and enhance our human rights network. There is always an opportunity to learn and to do so at a prestigious centre is an honour. I will return better and perhaps more knowledgeable,” he said.
Mr Opiyo said he simply left the day the charges against him were dropped as he was late for school by three weeks. Opiyo added that he did not have much time to wait or waste and left in haste because he needed the time away so badly to refocus his mind, yet he was also afraid for his own safety.
“I didn’t even have the time to bid my family goodbye. I guess they appreciate the circumstances under which I left. Let’s re-sharpen the tools for the work ahead. I will be back better and more resolved,” he posted.