The tag of chaos, violence and hooliganism has once again reared its ugly head at the Raila Odinga’s led Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) following yesterday’s attack on journalists sparking sad memories that has bedeviled the party for years notably during past party functions and political rallies.
Yesterday, Moses Nyamori from The Standard and Luke Awich from The Star were roughed up by a group of goons during a meeting convened by Azimio La Umoja presidential aspirant at party headquarters, Orange House sparking outrage and condemnation from media stakeholders who demanded action against the attackers.
The security team under the command of ODM security official Bernard Kadundo confronted the two journalists and demanded that they get out.
The party is still grappling to shed off the ugly tag especially the infamous ‘Men in Black’ incident.
The two identified themselves as journalists but the security team insisted that they leave.
Two security officials then roughed them up before frog matching Nyamori out of the premise and tore his clothes in the ensuing brawl.
Some party officials later intervened but the matter took an ugly turn when the security agents again confronted the journalists and broke Awich’s phone.
One of them threatened to beat up the two journalists after the function, forcing Nyamori to seek refuge in ODM chair John Mbadi’s car.
The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) and the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) condemned the incident and demanded that the party punishes the attackers.
They also demanded that the police arrest the individuals behind the attack.
The council raised concerns over political party-orchestrated violence against journalists and lack of investigations by the authorities.
“The two journalists were singled out days after stories published under their by-lines attracted verbal attacks and threats from specific party officials who had been quoted in the story,” added the council.
MCK condemned the profiling of journalists by leaders and supporters of political parties as it goes against Articles 34 and 35 of the Constitution on freedom of media and access to information.
“The Media Council of Kenya calls on the ODM leadership led by its leader Raila Odinga who was hosting today’s event to disown such acts of violence against the media and commit to non-interference in the work of media workers in all its activities henceforth,” added MCK CEO David Omwoyo. Similar views were shared by KUJ which termed the incident as primitive and unacceptable.
Crime Journalists’ Association of Kenya (CJAK) called on the National Police Service to move with speed and arrest the culprits.
CJAK Secretary-General Joseph Muraya called on the party to expose the attackers and have them arrested for prompt action.
According to CJAK, such incidents have become common across the country- with at least 6 journalists attacked since January for doing their work.
Between 2006 and 2020, over 1,200 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public across the world.
“We are calling on ODM to avail the goons who attacked journalists, to the National Police Service, for prompt action against them. We are also calling on the National Police Service to initiate a manhunt of the perpetrators and ensure justice is served,” said CJAK.
“ODM today (Thursday) at Orange House unleashed terror on journalists, leaving one injured. The primitive acts should not be condoned in a civilised society, where journalists are required to serve the public for the common good of the country,” said KUJ secretary general Eric Oduor.
“We condemn the attacks, and we demand that the hooligans who believe that assaulting journalists is the only way to express their misguided frustrations, are identified and handed over to police by conveners of the news event,” he added.
The union demanded that the police investigate the incident. KUJ also asked politicians participating in the August 9 polls to guarantee safety of journalists during the electioneering period.
Kenya Parliamentary Journalists Association (KPJA) chair Duncan Khaemba also condemned the attack.
“It’s regrettable that the incident happened when party top brass and a presidential aspirant were present, where security ought to be top-notch,” said Khaemba.
Raila also condemned the alleged attacks distancing himself from the attacks saying that ODM and Azimio La Umoja campaign have zero tolerance for any forms of violence and intimidation against anyone including journalists.
“The leadership of ODM has always fought and continues to fight for a free press and was at the forefront of the struggle for the 2010 Constitution, which, and among other laws, protects the freedoms of expression, association, and related expressive rights,” read part of the statement.
The former premier censured the acts labeling them undemocratic, adding that his team was looking into the case and would issue a report.
“These rights are core to democracy and are non-negotiable.; we are reviewing the reports of the attacks and will respond to them as appropriate. There is no place for such conduct by anyone in our society,” he said in the statement.
“The attack comes on the heels of a similar report last week where a leading media house expressed concern about the treatment of their staff while covering one of our campaign rallies in the County of Nairobi.”