Fearing more public backlash, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has said he advocates for media freedom and will continue guaranteeing journalists access to cover parliamentary proceedings.
His U-turn came on Wednesday, just hours after he summoned two People Daily reporters to face the Powers and Privileges Committee over a corruption claim story.
Muturi said journalists can count on his support all the way.
“I have called parliamentary reporters and assured them of my support as they cover all happenings in bunge,” he wrote on his Twitter page.
He noted that his attention had been drawn to Kenyans’ divided opinions on Parliament’s decision to censor journalists Anthony Mwangi and Dinah Ondari for their expose on corruption networks in Parliament.
Muturi had turned down a push by MPs to ban the two journalists from covering Parliament saying the reporters needed opportunities to defend themselves.
Curiously, the Speaker who chairs the powerful committee excused himself from presiding over the panel hearings and directed Mukurweini MP Anthony Kiai to take charge.
He will be deputised by West Mugirango MP Vincent Mogaka.
“This matter is grave. I convene the Powers and Privileges Committee to assemble immediately to probe the allegations which border on criminal acts,” Muturi said on Tuesday afternoon.
Endebess MP Robert Pukose triggered the storm when he took issue with the paper’s Monday headline – House of bribes. He accused the media house of generalising issues and calling members “predators”.
The story portrayed House committees as “dens of leeches and grounds infested by shoals of piranhas driven by lust for self gain”.