, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 6 – ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru was Tuesday morning at pains to explain to the Senate Committee of ICT reasons for the shutdown of KTN, NTV and citizen Television stations.
Mucheru was put to task by the Committee’s Chairman Gideon Moi (Baringo) to explain the criteria used to shut down the TV stations and repeatedly claimed that it was a National Security Advisory Council (NSAC) that effected the move.
“Just to be clear, I am not hiding behind a cloak. I am following due process and the law; at the moment that the matter is in court, you cannot discuss it in public and on live TV.”
This is where the Judiciary comes in, they have asked us to respect the law, it is very clear. And number two, it is about national security and I am not authorised to speak about issues on national security, you will have to talk to the National Security Advisory Council who ordered the move,” he stated.
Vice-Chairperson Abshiro Halakhe (Nominated) alongside committee members Enock Wambua (Kitui), Samuel Poghisio (West Pokot), Malachy Imana (Turkana) dismissed the CS’s attempt to pass the buck to the NSAC and Cabinet colleague for Interior, Fred Matiangi, and told him to take collective responsibility for the 10 day-shutdown because his represents government.
“I will not answer the who and why of the shutdown because I am not the one who did it. When the NSAC invokes their actions, it is not for me to respond,” Mucheru said in his response.
The CS who began his presentation with an apology for snubbing two previous invites to appear before the Senate team; fumbled in his response as to whether the case he was citing was of a criminal or civil nature.
“It is criminal, it involves the government, my ministry and the three media house,” he told Senator Moi as member of staff swung in and offered information allowing the CS to correct himself by stating that a response would be in contempt of a case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah and in which the three media houses are enjoined.
At some point, he stated that KTN News, NTV and Citizen stations were not shut down because they were broadcasting online and Kenyans still had access to newspapers.
“What I can assure you is that the government’s commitment to the freedom of the press; to access of information is unwavering, it has not changed and that continues to be the case. After the court case we can continue to have more discussion on that,” he said.
“But at this stage; it is a national security matter and it’s in court and we cannot discuss it any further.”
Senator Moi stated that he will now seek advice from the Senate Speaker whether the Committee can continue probing the matter or if there should be a joint committee sitting with the Senate Committee on National Security, Defence and Foreign Relations to probe the matter.
the Senate Committee is probing circumstance that led the Communications Authority of Kenya to switch off the signals of three major TV stations on January 30 during live coverage of National Super Alliance Leader Raila Odinga (NASA) mock swearing-in as ‘The People’s President’.