Kenya’s anti-graft agency has put the Council of Governors (CoG) on the spot over their decision to deny Nation Media Group any advertisement.
County bosses on Wednesday resolved to block adverts with the media group accusing it of painting governors as corrupt. CoG Chair Wycliffe Oparanya cited an article NMG published titled, ‘Eight governors on graft hit list’.
“There has been a deliberate effort to portray Governors as corrupt, inept and unable to run their counties especially by NMG as evidenced in the Daily Newspaper headline of 8th September 2020 captioned ‘Eight Governors on graft hit list’.
“It was resolved that henceforth, no county government shall advertise with the Nation Media Group merchandise until the situation is rectified,” Oparanya’s memo read.
EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak responded to the decision on Thursday warning the Council of Governors that their declaration is unlawful.
“…it offends the Constitution and relevant laws that govern acquisition of goods and services by public entities,” he said in a letter to Oparanya.
“Any accounting officer or any other public officer who may proceed to implement such unlawful instructions will be held personally liable.”
Noting that CoG violated article 10 and article 227 (1,3 and 21), Mbarak added: “Your letter, therefore, amounts to unlawful instructions and the contemplated action by county government could render all culpable persons liable to the applicable legal consequences including criminal prosecution.”
The Media Council of Kenya, Media Owners Association and Kenya Editors Guild also condemned the council.
“We take great exception to this unilateral and hurried move by the CoG that has the potential of setting a bad precedent in the engagements between public institutions and the media,” Media Owners Association said.
“The statement by CoG has the potential of singling out journalists for potential intimidation, harassment and denial of access to important county offices and functions,” MCK CEO David Omwoyo added.