State a suspect as magazine offices burgled

September 9, 2011 3:15 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 9 – Burglars raided the offices of the Nairobi Law Monthly magazine on Thursday night and stole computers containing vital information, crippling the publication’s operations.

The magazine’s proprietor Ahmednassir Abdillahi said two night guards at the offices were attacked with machetes and wounded,when they tried to prevent the theft.

The prominent lawyer told journalists that the stolen computers contained vital information and data which was due for publication in the October issue, which commemorates the first anniversary since the magazine was relaunched.

“These are people who knew specifically what they wanted and they have taken it. But I can tell you Nairobi Law Monthly will not be cowed or intimidated, we will go ahead and publish our next month’s issue and subsequent issues,” Mr Abdillahi said and revealed that the issue will be a 200-page bumper magazine which will focus on major issues covered since October 2010 when it was relaunched.

“These are people who knew what we intend to publish and that is why they have carried out this raid. We will not be intimidated at all,” he added but declined to discuss stories the publication intended to publish. “In fact, after this raid it is now imperative that we must publish.”

He said computers taken away included those of the editors and journalists working at the publication as well as others which contained backup information and the organisation’s data.

Staff of the magazine expressed shock at the raid and called for action from the law enforcement agencies.

The publication’s lawyer Paul Muite said the raid was a government operation and believes it was perpetrated by the police.

“There is no doubt here… this is the work of the police and it is too unfortunate because it is coming a year after we celebrated the promulgation of the new constitution, it shows we are still in those old dark days,” he said.

Mr Muite and Mr Abdillahi said they had reported the matter at the Parklands Police Station.

The raid was also condemned by the publication’s founder Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara who challenged Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti and the Police Commissioner to expedite the investigations.

“Every indication is that these were not normal thugs after computers were vandalised and it shows the threat to media freedom is still real,” Mr Imanyara told a press conference at Parliament buildings.

He said the raid was reminiscent of the dark days when the Nairobi Law Monthly and other media outlets were repeatedly raided and ransacked by former President Daniel arap Moi’s regime.

The Imenti Central MP said that given the police past record: “We do not want a repeat of an appearance of an investigation and want to hear that somebody has been arrested and brought to justice over this heinous crime.”

“Press freedom is the very essence of a democratic society and it is events such as these that we must condemn in the strongest terms possible and it is a matter that I will raise as soon as Parliament resumes,” he added.

Mr Imanyara also disclosed that the current publisher had indicated the he had been receiving threats following his appointment to the Judicial Service Commission.

He also linked the incident to the campaign against the implementation of the new Constitution.

“The publisher Mr Abdillahi has been threatened on many occasions since he took an active role in the vetting of judicial officers where he is a member. But he has courageously fought to continue with the tradition of Nairobi Law Monthly but a threat to any media outlet is a threat to all media in this country,” said the Imenti Central MP.

Mr Imanyara said he was aware that the magazine had planned to publish 200 pages of major scandals in the country in their next edition, including an expose into the operations of the Kenya Revenue Authority.

CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes also condemned the raid and urged authorities to swiftly apprehend the perpetrators.

“The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the early morning raid on the Nairobi Law Monthly, clearly designed to silence the investigative publication from their critical reporting,” Rhodes said.

“This is not the first time unknown assailants have raided a Kenyan media house with total impunity. Authorities must break from the past and do everything in their power to identify and arrest the perpetrators of this crime,” he added.

In March 2006, security forces raided the offices of the Standard and KTN in Nairobi and carted away computers before burning copies of newspapers.

The then Internal Security Minister John Michuki admitted at the time that the government was responsible for the raid.

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