, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 22- Deputy President William Ruto has sent a demand letter to the Nation Media Group (NMG) over a story that ran on the May 19 issue of the Sunday Nation, alleging he spent Sh100 million of taxpayers’ money to hire a luxury jet.
Ruto said the media group must issue an apology, admit liability for libel within seven days and retract the false story because of the harm it caused him after publication.
He argued that the newspaper ran with the story, which was accessible throughout the East African region and the Internet, under what he termed as an ‘unnecessary, provocative and alarming headline’.
Ruto’s office was this week forced to control the damage done by releasing invoices and other documents relating to the rental of the jet, maintaining that the actual cost was Sh18.5 million.
“It was expressly meant to embarrass, discredit and malign his respected status and standing as a respected Kenyan and deputy president in the government of Kenya,” the demand note from Ruto’s advocate Kioko Kilukumi states.
The deputy president added that the jet he hired did not have any bedroom, meeting room, office, lounge or fully equipped kitchen as alleged in the article.
He explained that he opted for the cheapest option out of the three quotations that were obtained from charter aircraft service providers and cautioned the media house against running additional publications of a similar nature.
Ruto maintained that the jet in question was not hired on an annual basis but on a one-off basis adding that there would be no need to pay for it in instalments.
“The article was calculated to be understood that our client was leading a lavish lifestyle at the expense of the taxpayers. A prudent reader will conclude that our client has very little regard to tax payer’s monies,” argued Kilukumi in part.
It was not immediately clear what damages Ruto plans to get from the suit.
He also said that he will file a complaint with the Media Complaints Commission if NMG fails to comply with his demands within the stipulated time.
Ruto added that the journalist behind the headline did not seek his side of the story before publishing the article.
“The story as published lacks fairness, impartiality and accuracy. It is biased and heavily tilted to depict our client in the most unfavourable light,” stressed Kilukumi.