, NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 31 – Journalists covering a National Super Alliance (NASA) Parliamentary Group meeting staged a walkout after three of their colleagues were attacked by ruffians.
The assailants attacked Citizen Television Senior Political Reporter Francis Gachuri and slapped Nation Television (NTV) camera-lady Jane Gatwiri as she was filming the drama.
A Kenya Television Network (KTN) reporter was also besieged as he tried to intervene and save his colleagues.
Gachuri was in the process of doing a live link for the lunchtime bulletin when the rowdy mob descended on him claiming Citizen TV was biased in its coverage of the just concluded fresh presidential election.
The incident took place moments after NASA leader Raila Odinga, Co-Principal Musalia Mudavadi among other leading leaders were exiting the Wiper Offices and heading towards a tented area where MPs were meeting and a media briefing was to take place.
Embakasi East MP Babu Owino and ODM Director of Communications Phillip Etale rushed to the scene and rescued Gachuri from the rowdy mob that was now charging and shoving him while demanding his ejection from the venue.
Owino found him safe refuge by sand-witching him in between fellow MPs as the security detail attached to the legislators swung into action to calm tempers.
“I had just finished doing a link and then I saw people coming towards me and then they started pushing me and shouting. But I will not be cowed. I have always done my job professionally,” Gachuri said after he walked out of Wiper Headquarters.
“I am well. I am fine. The incident at Wiper Headquarters was unfortunate but all is well,” he stated later in a Facebook post.
Gachuri was escorted out of the venue by the Odinga’s Head of Security, Etale and Wiper Party security guards as fellow journalists waited outside the premises located in Lavington.
Before they attack, a group of young men repeatedly issued verbal warnings to the journalists but singled out Citizen, NTV, KBC as the media houses they claimed were leaning towards the re-election of the President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Journalists rejected attempts by ODM Director of Communications Phillip Etale to reconsider their stand to leave the venue.
“We have decided as a team to leave Wiper HQs until the attack against journalists is condemned by the NASA leadership. I saw some of the leaders who I can’t name cheering when Francis Gachuri was getting roughed up. The journalists had been deployed to cover NASAs announcement on the way forward,” said KTN Political Affairs Reporter Chris Thairu.
NASA Communication Director Kate Openda later issued a statement condemning the attack adding that the coalition will take action after upon completion of an investigation.
Moments after news of the assault broke, journalists led by Kenya Union of Journalists Secretary General Eric Odour took to social media platforms to condemn the attack and demanded NASA leader Odinga to rein in his supporters.
“When your supporters attack journalists, we will also boycott your functions. Cc Dennis Onyango and Philip Etale please advise your bosses accordingly. Journalists are not politicians,” Odour said on his Facebook account.
“Attack on journalists by NASA supporters deeply disturbing, you can’t purport to fight for democracy and allow this. Hope Odinga condemns!” added AFP’s Deputy Bureau Chief for East Africa, based in Nairobi.