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Opinion

Social Media Is Not A Threat To Kenya’s National Security You Have More Dangerous Vices To Worry About

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Writer, Kenya West

Writer, Kenya West

You can’t eat your cake and have quickly challenged in African context given how the power elites for the longest time in history have been able to control the narrative and information flow in the traditional media. It has made it possible to sell garbage wrapped nicely as candy pack. Due to their tight grip on the traditional media, the African power elites have had fields day manipulating the traditional media and having their way with whichever social fraud they commit. Simple script, if it didn’t appear on the press it didn’t happen, that’s how the shots have been called.

New age media, the internet era, has completely revolutionized information dissemination and consumption sending a distress call to the big boys. Business has ceased being usual, the horse has gone wild and not even the harshest stroke seem useful in taming. The Internet has given rise to a new breed of citizen journalism with bloggers taking center stage. The ball is no longer dribbled by the traditional media alone; the bloggers are changing the game’s dynamics.

In the recent times, bloggers in Kenya have come under radar especially those deemed critical to the government and influential figures at large. In January alone about ten bloggers were arrested amongst them Cyprian Nyakundi, Yassin Juma, Patrick Safari, Judith Akolo, Eddie Illah,Robert Alia and Dikembe Disembe

The power elites in Kenya have targeted the bloggers in major clampdown specifically those critical to the system. In a well-orchestrated manner, arrests have been flying all over in a desperate bid to gag and suffocate the information flow new order pushed by the bloggers.

Blogger Cyprian Nyakundi

Blogger Cyprian Nyakundi

When a hyena wants to eat its children, it first accuses them of smelling like goats an African proverb that captures best the technique robust system adopted in dealing with the blogging menaces. The government being unhappy with the game has resorted to intimidating cards through unwarranted arrests. Section 29 of the information and communication act of misusing licensed telecommunication gadget, the same quote across all the arrested. The government has been accused by human rights watch for hiding behind this law as they pounce on bloggers.

Article 33 of the Kenyan constitution, guarantees everyone right to freedom of expression which goes further allowing them to seek, receive or impart ideas and information. It’s, therefore, selfish for the system to be impartial to the spirit of the constitution. If anything, you only worry about scrutiny of you have a lot to hide. Why would the system and power elites be concerned about citizens seeking information if they’re not doing anything dirty?

The bloggers have threatened the livelihoods of social fraudsters, big business that was initially immune to scrutiny and exposing of their company’s ills are left shivering as bloggers actively prove to be untamed. Controversial Kenyan blogger, Cyprian Nyakundi is currently jumping from one courtroom to the other thanks to legal actions against him after exposing big business like Safaricom and BIDCO Africa. Companies that were thought to be untouchable and could move with utmost ease and impunity no longer can.

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Threat to national security

Clampdown on bloggers critical of the government has been read by many as an attack on the freedom of expression and ugly bid by the system to continue controlling the information flow. More than often, bloggers have been accused of posting information seen as the threat to national security, in the right appetite of a hyena eating its kids, the hyena in this case Kenyan government has painted the bloggers as biggest threats to the national security way above terrorists slaughtering Kenyans. Begging the question, are bloggers the threat to national security in Kenya? The threat to safety is the umbrella used to gain public sympathy as the elites embark on mass lashing. Priorities should be rewritten, and issues faced head on without using bloggers as an excuse. The following according to me are the biggest threats to national security.

Corruption

Terrorism as a global scale problem has mainly hit Kenya and an apparent headache to the government. Less than four weeks ago, Al Shabaab attacked Kenya Defence Force (KDF) El Adde Camp in Somalia killing an unknown number of soldiers though preliminary state figures put it at a double figure. Corruption has facilitated terror attacks to a larger extent. Movement of weapons and terrorists in and out of the borders has been blamed on corrupt officers manning the borders. Several reports including those from UN, Justice For Journalists (JFJ) point out at a possibility of high-ranking army officials entangled in illegal sugar smuggling racket and alcohol trade in Somalia, Kismayu airport with KDF notably named as a major player.

Such selfish interests at the expense of our national security are a bigger threat than bloggers and when such issues are highlighted and questioned one is quickly named threat to national safety and risks being a visitor of the state.

Extensively, corruption in public offices, denying opportunities to deserving citizens, cutting off jobs only breeds more criminals contributing to the insecurity surge.

Incompetence

Blogger and journalist Yassin Juma were arrested just moments before he could publish information exposing incompetence issues on the El Adde attack. Yassin claims he was in contact with a source who revealed to him to have provided intelligence to the relevant agencies on the impending attack on the KDF Camp weeks before they were raided. Issues as to when the information was received, preparatory measures adopted by the commanders in readiness. It’s a sacrilege even to think about questioning the competency of the army. Westgate brought into focus some competence flaws by the KDF, but when bloggers and journalists like KTN’s Mohammed Ali raised the issues, they were quickly called out and dismissed as terrorist sympathizers. A miscalculation can lead to hundreds of deaths. Incompetence in any security force is a significant threat to the national security

Blogger Robert Alai

Blogger Robert Alai

Marginalization

Historically, marginalization of certain communities has been evident, contributing to the growth of hostile citizenship. With the sensitivity that it comes with, many have resolved to speak about it in low tones but look to kill a bedbug, and you have to use two fingers. In unity there’s power. Marginalization on conservative and religious perspectives can be blamed on the rise of insecurity in Kenya. Citizens from the North Eastern region of the country, have for decades complained of being given second class citizens compared to what they feel others are getting. Economic marginalization that has left significant parts of it impoverished can be attributed to the rise in terrorists pile up. Most of the youths that crossed over to Somalia to join the terror group have reportedly blamed their shift on unemployment with the militia promising lavish employment opportunities. While it’s morally unjustifiable, the truth is not any far.

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Gagged Media

The traditional media in Kenya is having powerful forces fingerprints stamped all over it. The information control is at its all time highest. Just last month, Daily Nation fired its editor Dennis Galava for writing an article critical of the government, this step is said to have been pushed by powerful forces from above. Galava is not the only journalist to have faced the noose, and some journalists have, and there’s a cold order in the newsrooms against inking anything critical to the system. Information is power and actively informed citizenry is the biggest threat to power masters as they become exquisitely inquisitive, alert and hindering to their manipulative ways.

Being a curious society, the more system attempt to gag the media, bloggers will continue to grow as the best alternative for unfiltered news which in turn blossoms their careers. Four weeks after the El Adde attack, the government is yet to come out and give precise figures. Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab seems to have won the war on propaganda, have released their alleged casualty numbers which they put at a 100+ number. Instead of being consistent in information flow, the government resorted to gagging the bloggers yet themselves created that void by not giving information to the public who are hungry to get the finer details. While it’s ethically immoral to post photos such as that Yassin was arrested for, it’s not in any way illegal.

Flawed communication strategy

Kenyans on Twitter recently mocked President Kenyatta on #UhuruInKenya this followed concerns about his constant foreign travels. Kenyans felt he’s barely in the country. The administrative communication team came in later to give clarifications on the need for such trips and benefits to the country. This was a too much yet too late move. The team should’ve developed a strategy consistently to give the public information on most of his trips and not waiting till the bomb goes off.

During Westgate and most recently El Adde attack, the government has proven not to be engaging best of strategies in handling the crisis situations. Too much information withholding is giving space to the Al Shabaab to propel their propaganda. Constraining the information in such a times is what gets the bloggers hitting the rail, and the enemies can take advantage to sell a spade as a big spoon. The Clear communication strategy will go a long way in fighting the war on terror.

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Intimidation

Out of ten bloggers arrested, only one would eventually face charges. Most are arrested, held illegally in custody for days before being released without single charge pressed. This is a clear blueprint of intimidation on bloggers to tame their mouths but has worked the other way round. Blogger Nyakundi, who was arrested and released, after two days without any charges against him, says,”these moves are intimidating theatrics put out to try and gag the bloggers. I was asked why I’m always attacking the government and about my accomplices, this is unacceptable, we’re in a democratic country where everyone is free to support any political agenda.” Similarly, Yassin Juma was released without any charge pressed against him, and that has been the case for Robert Alai, Dikembe Disembe, Patrick Safari and the rest. The fact that no charge gets to be pressed against them is a clear indication that there’s no crime committed and the intentions for arrests are only to play scare tactic role.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery

Own up

One of the greatest minds in humanity, Aristotle said,”to avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing” Jubilee government holding the throne, must look forward to criticism. While they’re going for the bloggers as the threat to national security, real terrorists are taking advantage to restructure themselves. Criticism doesn’t equate to being unpatriotic but rather shows one’s love and concern for the country and only pointing out loopholes for the betterment. Going for bloggers and tolerating economic terrorists, corruption cartels milking the country dry is equivalent to punching the air blindly while the enemy was strategizing cocking the gun behind you.

If you can’t beat them

As Kenya moves closer to 2017 general elections, the bloggers will have let role in information flow. Coming from a violent election and memories still clear of 2007/08, the country is vulnerable. Only those with a lot to hide are threatened by the bloggers, the government or the power elites shouldn’t be worried if all their dealings are stainless. The media has the jurisdiction of being the public’s watchdog, and if it fails to play the mandate, bloggers are restructuring the game and playing that role.

Public offices and power holders must be open to scrutiny and lethal criticism. They must be put into accountability. Fighting bloggers by painting them as the threat to national security with unconstitutional charges is uncouth and backward. To completely tame the bloggers as they are deemed enemies of the state, run a clean system this, in turn, will deny fodder to the bloggers who’re now increasingly watchful. Arresting and intimidating the bloggers has proved to be ineffective and only working as a rating booster for the bloggers. The game has completely changed, and the business as usual syndrome showed the door.

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Kenya West is a trained investigative independent journalist and a socio-political commentator on matters Kenya and Africa. Send me tips to [[email protected]]

Opinion

Sameer Group’s Naushad Merali Impersonation Saga Of President Uhuru Opens A Pandora Box

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In what seems like a well planned out plot of people who’ve studied the system well to know how it runs and who to target a can of worms has been ripped out.

Merali whom has had close ties with almost all administrations since Kenyatta era, was targeted by the now famous group of seven individuals in what has turned out to be an historic scamming.

On January 14 recieved a call from the ‘President’ about a tender, the tycoon had no reason to doubt he caller was not the head of state. The caller perfectly mimicked his voice.

Merali and the ‘President’ exchanged pleasantries on the phone, then got down to business.

The ‘President informed Merali of a state tender he wanted the well-known businessman to enjoy. But there was a catch. The ‘head of state’ asked Merali for a small favour before he could embark on the lucrative contract, Sh10 million in advance for facilitation. That presumably was a trifle compared to the tender itself.

It happened that Merali was outside the country but that wasn’t gonna stop the show given his appetite, he took the risk and tadked his financial officer to process the facilitation fee which at this point we will call it as it is, a bribe.

So elaborate was the plan that the ‘President’ sent his men to pickup the cash from Merali’s office in Mombasa road. Sharply dressed men arrived with full Police escort and high range cars to clear any touch of doubt. They were given the Sh.10M.

So here’s what I pick from the story that Mr. Merali and President Uhuru are obviously not new to each other and probably have had other personal engagements together beforehand for Merali to quickly give in to the mimicked voice.

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The suspects didn’t target Merali randomly and using uhuru’s voice randomly, this was elaborate, they must have had an insider information in order to be able to exploit the weak links. Sh10M is not a few coins that Merali would just give easily without solid assurance like the president himself collecting the money. The level of confidence Merali had on the ‘President’ could easily point at a possible previous and similar engagement.

It also can mean that, there’s an elaborate ring including Statehouse officials who target businessmen and defraud in President’s name. Infact, Police investigations are exploring this possibility.

The group has links to State House, Harambee House and other powerful offices which they use to execute their swindles.

The scammers lure rich business people with the promises of restricted tenders mainly involving the supply of goods.

To win the trust of potential bidders, the fraudsters in collusion with government officials and police officers forge documents on letterhead and invite their targets to government offices to sign fake documents. This opens up the Pandora box of how tenderprenuers enjoy privileges from the state officials and how money exchange hands to win contracts.

Merali should be arrested on arrival at the airport from wherever he’s now comfortably hiding to answer on bribery and I’m certain investigators can extract more information from him to catch those in the web that is if they’re serious to take this case to the end.

It also opens up a box of lies that the so called flamboyant ‘businessmen’ make their money, most of the suspects arrested live large, they’ve enjoyed positive press before. This isn’t the first time scamming case to hit the airwaves, it’s still fresh in minds about yet another flamboyant ‘businessman’ Jared Otieno who was also in the spotlight for fraud.

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Opinion

Uhuru Must Replace The Rejected Ambassadors By Host Country With Competent Kenyans

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Ambassadorial posts like many other parastatal appointments have been largely awarded on political weighing as opposed to merits. International relations is an important aspect of any country’s growth that’s why serious country’s only assign career diplomats to such duties.

However, in Kenya such posts more often are awarded to political rejects who’re given the positions as reward for sycophancy. It now emerges that seven ambassadors of Kenya have been denied accreditation by their host countries given their tainted records in Kenya.

Though the government has been trying behind the scenes to resolve the unprecedented diplomatic development on the postings, it would appear Russia, Turkey, Austria, China, Malaysia, Namibia and Qatar have rejected the new envoys.

And six months after being vetted by Parliament and consequently appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the seven; Ndegwa Muhoro (Malaysia), Hassan Wario (Austria), Benjamin Langat (Namibia), Johnson Kimani Ondieki (Turkey), Richard Ekai (Russia), Sarah Serem (China) and Paddy Ahenda (Qatar) have yet to report to their foreign duty stations.

Other appointments said to have run into the rare diplomatic headwinds include that of ambassador to the European Union (EU) Phyllis Kandie, who was later replaced by former Cabinet colleague Prof Jacob Kaimenyi.

This is a clear manifest that the so called vetting processes conducted in Kenya are just a farce and that other countries prioritize integrity. It still baffles me how someone like Ndegwa Muhoro successfully went through the vetting process despite having an immensely controversial record while he was the DCI.

Here’s a man who was at the center of extrajudicial killings including unresolved murders of many including businessman Jacob Juma whom many believe was assassinated by the state and IEBC’s ICT Director Chris Musando. Not to mention a heap of corruption accusations labeled against him including the land grabbing of Tatu City.

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It therefore doesn’t come as a surprise that Muhoro’s former position as Directorate of Criminal Investigations, might have worked against his appointment as ambassador to Malaysia.

Apparently, Malaysian government has blocked his appointment citing his alleged blighted record during his tenure at Mazingira House, the DCI headquarters.

During his vetting process by the National Assembly, Muhoro whose first appointment to Israel as an envoy did not materialise, was confronted with allegations of spate of extra-judicial killings and unsolved high-profile murders during his tenure. Malaysian government under the new tough Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad blocked the former sleuth’s ambassadorial job.

Another crook who doesn’t deserve to hold any public office is Hassan Wario, the Former Sports CS Wario’s appointment may have run into trouble after he was charged together with Olympics legend Kipchoge Keino over the Sh55 million Rio Olympic graft scandal. His case is still pending in court.

Honestly, these are the peiple expected to represent the face of Kenya in the host countries and they walk in with taunted images? What will this say about Kenya? Malaysia for instance has been a safe hum for many corrupt Kenyans who hide their wealth and then you purport to fight corruption and assign a more corrupt individual like Muhoro to represent the country?

The President Must now live by his words, he recently said that none of those implicated in corrupt cases would be allowed to occupy public offices. This is the perfect time for Uhuru to cut links with his corrupt friends. We have able Kenyans who’re experienced diplomats to fill those voids. More time must not be wasted.

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Muhoro and his group of unworthy choices must be immediately discharged to retirement. The country won’t stop running because a few monkeys fell off the tree. President Must now prove a point on what he really stands for.


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Opinion

Why Wilkins Fadhili Will Get Away With Everything

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Wilkins Fadhili.

The 2013 block buster ‘wolf of wallstreet’ was a hit that aimed to caution the young and money obsessed individuals on quick and dirty tricks to earn money. Instead, it served as a blue print to escape poverty by any means. Taking advantage of grey areas and loop holes in the constitutions, many young and old people learnt tricks on how to fake it and make it across the globe. Faking lavish lifestyles, talking like super hustlers and posing to inspire the young and gullible.

Survey shows that out of three young people, one is most likey to be living under pressure to present themselves as having a ‘perfect’ life on social media. This is what the coning pair, Wilkins Odinga Fadhili and Ruth Ambogo took advantage of. Wilkins chose to be a fake brand strategist, developer and his bae, Ruth Ambogo who came to some sort of limelight through Daughters of Raila campaign team was posing as a successful young lady, below 25 years of age. What she succeeded on is yet to be known.

Ambogo has been taking advantage of the unsuspecting young people, posing as one within their age bracket who has made it. She has organised seminars and workshops, coned young and extended to rip on githeri media that does no background check. If she was not elsewhere coning the youth in the company of Fadhili, she would be the slay in television interviews slotted between soap operas or naija movies because that’s when many gullible kids in their late teens and mid tweenties are watching. ‘Motivating’ and talking as one who made through hardwork but what did she make it on? nothing but fakery.

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Ambogo and Fadhili were enroute to enjoying the heroic status like that of a successful athlete, a musician or business person. She was nearly becoming a female Myles Monroe. Only that her motivation was fake and in her head she was living her dream, mid day dreams. Both of them were nominated for funny awards as the most promising under 25s. Are they under 25? Ambogo smears anything in her face to seal pot holes and wrinkes to atlease resemble a young person but even a mad man will tell you that that bae is over thirty and counting.

Back at home they were having living together and having sex, which is allowed if anything they are two very old people thinking of their 40s. With age advancing and world changing, it’s like Wilkins was running short of tricks to keep the coning business a float and you know romance without finance is not easy with a slay as your bae. Their thing was hitting rock bottom, reports were doing rounds that Wilkins was moving from one girl’s house to the next. Sources close to the couple revealed to K.I that Ambogo was getting tired of Wilkins but still had a feeling that his coning tricks would make a big killing. 

He was under duress, people he had coned or borrowed money from were blowing his phones, he was not landing on new preys, the ‘business’ was literally bad for him and like any other slay, Ambogo was becoming impatient. When Fadhili’s trick to con Larry Madowo (a journalist) failed and Larry bursted him, Ambogo took that as an opportune time to distance herself from her man. She wasn’t lucky though, netizens were on her with water tight eveidence that tied them together. 

First coning couple of 2019. Look at where faking has put them, if these guys were real, their friendship would stand the test of time and hardship. No law bars one from being nominated for awards, you actually create your own, nomiated yourself and even award yourself. They faked it to this level. With conversations over millions in public while back at home they argued over tomatoes and secretly went through each others phones. Trust was at its all time low.

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Ambogo was faker,  distancing herself when Wilkins was bursted is why, “Fake friends are like shadows: always near you at your brightest moments, but nowhere to be seen at your darkest hour. True friends are like stars, you don’t always see them but they are always there.” – Habeeb Akande.

By @grinlightmedia on Twitter.


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