, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s office has refuted a report in one of the local dailies which alleges that he was admitted to the Nairobi Hospital on Friday evening.
The People newspaper claimed in its Saturday edition lead story that the PM was hospitalised after touring Narok County.
But in a statement sent to newsrooms on Saturday morning, his spokesman Dennis Onyango said the PM was in robust health, wasn’t admitted to hospital and never visited any doctor as claimed.
“The PM sees the story in The People as the panic reaction of detractors and political opponents. The PM urges his supporters to remain calm and focused and not succumb to such distractions. It is not the first time sections of the media are doing this and we believe it will not be the last.”
Odinga was at Uhuru Park early on Saturday morning before heading out for a series of meetings in Transmara.
He indicated he was instituting legal action against the newspaper for what he termed as a malicious report.
“Odinga appeals to Kenyans in general and to his supporters to remain calm and focused as he is in perfect health and is going on with his public duties as scheduled,” said Onyango.
Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Ababu Namwamba also addressed a news conference to spell out party concerns over the inaccurate report.
Namwamba accused the paper of spreading falsehoods maintaining that the PM was in excellent health.
“We take great exception to deliberate lies, which we consider to be malicious. We particularly take great exception to this headline ‘Raila in Hospital,” said the youthful minister.
While holding a copy of the daily, he accused those behind it of irresponsible journalism saying they should not be used to smear people’s names.
He said that he spent his entire day with the PM in Narok on Friday maintaining that they would continue carrying out campaigns in various parts of the country.
“He did a full day yesterday in Narok South, he is doing a full day today in Narok North, he will do a full day tomorrow in Loitoktok and he will do another full day on Monday in Mombasa and anybody out there who wishes to cause despondency is out of order,” he quipped.
Journalists from The People and the sister K24 however told the minister that the report was accurate as the PM was indeed at Nairobi Hospital, where he spent about four hours undergoing scans.
“We have documents showing that he (the Prime Minister) had an MRI scan done and was there for about four hours,” one of the journalists told Namwamba.
A visibly irritated Namwamba then challenged them to make the documents public.
He also argued that the article must have been authored during the day because it was impossible for the PM to come back to Nairobi after his Narok tour at around 7pm, spend four hours at the Nairobi Hospital, for the paper to get its story and send it to print on time.
“By the time this human being actually sent this story to print, the PM was not even at home yet. He was still engaged in our activities. Even in terms of time, if you were to calculate it just doesn’t add up. We believe that this story was authored much earlier,” he claimed.
“Why would you go around fishing for imaginary MRI documents?” he retorted.
Namwamba had been scheduled to take a flight with the PM to Transmara before he changed plans to “set the record straight.”
He also took issue with the fact that the article did not carry any specific by-line but chose to use the ‘newsteam’ tag.
Although the paper had claimed to have spoken to a close family member, who allegedly revealed details of the PM’s health condition, Namwamba denied the allegation saying there was nothing to hide.
“Two years ago the PM sought medical attention and it was a matter that every Kenyan knew about so why is it that this story is news in one newspaper… Why?” he posed.
He also said that the article was an attempt to create red herrings in Odinga’s campaign and taint his bid for the top seat.
“We want to tell them that CORD (Coalition for Reforms and Democracy) is ready for you any time, any place, anywhere and we want to engage them in compe roho safi,” he quipped.