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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

Violet Kemunto: The Changing Face Of Terror And Why Now Al Shabaab Targets The Young And Educated Men And Women For Recruitment In Kenya

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Violet Kemunto

How does a country deal with Al-Shabaab returnees, home grown terrorism and an increasing attractiveness of young people who don’t come from disadvantaged backgrounds to extremism? These are the challenges Tuesday’s attack at dusitD2 hotel complex has presented Kenya’s security apparatus.The revelation that those who executed the attack and part of the planning are locals has sent shock waves across the country on why a bunch of Kenyans would plan the slaughter of their fellow countrymen on orders from across the border.An affidavit filed in court by the Anti-Terror Police Unit seeking detention of five people showed that Ali Salim Gichunge and Violet Kemunto, believed to have played a key role in planning the attack, were being faclilitated from Somalia.

“A quick perusal of their phone numbers shows they were in constant communication with several contacts in Somalia,” said the affidavit filed by Inspector Monica Githaiga.Although local terror cells have been used on several occasions to carry out attacks, Tuesday’s was the first of such a grand scale to be planned and executed by Kenyans. This shows a change in strategy by Al-Shabaab which has previously sent Somali nationals from their ranks to carry out a big hit.

The Westgate and Garrisa University attacks, which stand out as being on almost a similar scale in terms of strategy and execution, were led by fighters who had crossed the border from Somalia. Additionally, the two biggest names associated with the attack, Gichunge and Kemunto, have broken the stereotypic view and the long standing association of ethnic Somalis to terrorism by Kenyans. While distancing themselves from terrorists, residents of Eastleigh who closed their shops for an hour on Friday to honour those who died at dusitD2, said Somalis and Muslims are peaceful and do not advocate such killings.“The community is here to say no to terrorism, no to extremism and no to violence.

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Al-Shabaab do not enjoy any support from this community. They do not represent or talk on our behalf,” said Kamkunji MP Yusuf Hassan.“We are not Al Shabaab, neither do they speak for us. We do not agree with their ideology of killing innocent people. Eastleigh is not a hub for terrorists. We will find them and flush them out,” vowed Yusuf.

Backfiring moves

When Kenya deployed its forces into Somalia and offered to train some of the distressed country’s soldiers, it had no idea that the move would set it on a collision course with an enemy it had set out to annihilate. As the Somali soldiers were getting their training at Archer’s Post, some 70 kilometres from Isiolo Town and at Manyani in Taita Taveta, another training of sorts was going on. Young Kenyan men and women were being lured by the same enemy the government was trying to keep off.

And this time, it was different. The enemy switched it up a bit and went to the very core of society, convincing and recruiting from the very heart of the communities. One of these men and women was Gichunge, whose face his family says, had been away from them for years, only to resurface on CCTV footage as one of the attackers in the bloody Riverside attack that led to the death of dozens.At the time, Isiolo was one of Al-Shabaab’s fertile recruiting grounds.

Hundreds of youth, according to intelligence sources, had been recruited from here. Those recruited include high school students. Some youth, including university students, had also been reported to have disappeared. And this was not the only change in strategy. Although the psychology of the recruit remained the same, their sociology too changed. From recruiting the downtrodden and poorly educated, recruiters trained their eyes on well-educated children from well off families.

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The situation is similar in Marsabit, where the now famous ‘Mount Marsabit Warriors’ were lured into Somalia by a teacher who graduated from Garissa University. To date, the whereabouts of the five boys and three girls as well as their female teacher remain unknown. Isiolo County Directorate of Criminal Investigation Raphael Wawire said Gichunge hails from Isiolo, and is one of the many youths lured away by Al-Shabaab.

Former Isiolo County Commissioner George Natembeya, who is now in the same capacity in Narok, had in 2016 said that scores of youth had been recruited into the terror group, but some had come back.Yussuf Dogo of Friends of Nomads International (Foni), an NGO that works in northern Kenya counties, said Al-Shabaab had devised “known ways” (recruiting non-Somalis and Coastal) to disguise its campaign to carry out terror attacks.

The reality that Al-Shabaab can now use Kenyans to carry out such large scale attacks and that terrorism can no longer be related to a certain community or lack of economic opportunities is what experts say is the changing face of terror. Kemunto, a journalism graduate from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), has continued an emerging pattern of educated individuals who are increasingly joining terror groups.

A study, Violent extremism in Kenya: Why women are a priority, conducted by the Institute for Security Studies in Africa last year said that least 58 students have abandoned universities to join terrorist groups in Somalia, Libya and Syria in the last three years.One of the masterminds of the Garrissa University massacre in 2015, Abdirahim Mohamed, was studying to be a lawyer at the University of Nairobi. On February 2016, police arrestedHassanaen Ahmed, a University of Nairobi biochemistry student, as he was reportedly leaving the country to travel to Libya to join the Islamic State group.

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Later in May that year, Gloria Kavaya, a microbiology student at Kenyatta University, was also arrested after she disappeared from school, changed her name and embarked on what police said were plans to travel to Syria.“The stand out fact from this week’s attack is that the Al-Shabaab has proven that it is still around and it is able to recruit beyond the ethnic Somali base,” says James Ndung’u, a security expert.

Returnees dilemma

“What should worry security stake holders is how fast Al Shabaab can evolve to new challenges like opting to use locals when it can no longer send fighters across the border due to strong counter terrorism measures by the Kenyan government,” he observes.Ndung’u says one factor making it easy for the Al-Shabaab to recruit from within Kenya is the inability by government to effectively integrate returnees, which means most of them do not completely cut links with the terror group.

This view is also shared by the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) which says while the government has several programmes meant to support the returnees who wish to be reintegrated back to society, the reality is most of them fear getting arrested if they come out.“Returnee support for the programme has been limited by their fear and mistrust of the government and its security agencies. Returnees simply stay clear,” says ISS in a research paper published recently.

Article first appeared on Standard


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Opinion

Ezekiel Mutua Suddenly Loves A Gay Man

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If there’s one public officer who has been an excellent bothersome and a nuisance to creativity in Kenya then it’s the KFCB’s boss Ezekiel Mutua, a known self centered man with ego bigger than our Chinese debts, the film’s board CEO has killed morale of production in this country thanks to his fake moral standards.

I’ve lost count on the number of videos and films Mutua has banned in the name of maintaining moral levels. Just the other day, he banned Rafiki a lesbian love story, the film went ahead and won big international awards and is set for an Oscars nominations after Kenyan court uplifted the ban.

Mutua banned the film saying it was promoting homosexuality something he terms unacceptable in the Kenyan society. Christened moral police, Mutua has been a butt of jokes given most of bizarre statements that he makes, neither recently made international headlines when he accused tourists of teaching lions gay tendencies when a gay lion was discovered in Nairobi Park.

If we’re to dedicate this on the fallacious statements Mutua has made, we’d need a whole book. Mutua has been harsh critic of homosexuality and has been shouting on the top of his lungs against the topic that has had him ban a number of good films inline demoralizing and killing creativity in the film industry.

In the backdrop of all the homosexuals bashing, the attention courting executive surprised many when he came into the defense of JCC for hosting and allowing CNN’s Richard Quest to use the church’s pulpit. Quest is a publicly confessed gay with a partner he stays with both in New York and London where homosexuality is accomodated.

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Comments from Kenyans criticized the acceptance of Quest into the church saying it was a show of double standards and hypocrisy on the church since they’ve never given any local a such a chance despite the fact that there are many open gay men and women on Kenya. It is the white mans complex that’s being said to have given the visiting journalist an upper hand and even earned him support from unexpected corner and that’s from Mutua.

Below is what Ezekiel Mutua said on Quest’s church appearance;

So guys are on Rev. Kathy and Bishop Kiuna for letting CNN top journalist Richard Quest into their church today, after his confessed gay lifestyle? Honestly? In my view Quest’s visit to the Jubilee Christian Church today and his interview with Rev. Kathy Kiuna is one of the highlights of his visit, besides his coverage of the KQ inaugural flight to New York tonight and the Mpesa revolution.

If Quest’s main mission was to highlight life changing ventures and innovations in Kenya, then today he was in the right place. Rev. Kathy and Bishop Kiuna are the true exemplification of the Kenyan spirit of self-belief, resilience, hard work and faith. They have conquered many odds to be who they are today.

Like or hate them, the Kiunas have influenced millions. No one can deny the fact that the Kiunas have given hope to many youths. Theirs is the true story of audacity of hope. Such are the unique stories that need to be highlighted about Kenya. Quest may be gay, but he is a top notch journalist who can sense newsworthy stories with unique angles.

The Kenya Film Classification Board cleared him and provided gratis licenses for his entire crew because we trusted in his professional ability to highlight the real stories about Kenya and her people. His sexual orientation has nothing to do with his work. Let him be. Let the Kiunas be. Quest was not in church to sell gay ideology. He was there to cover a story of resilience and hope. He chose to highlight variant topics of hope and determination and that is a good thing.

Mutua strikes as a man of double speak and you can be so sure he wouldn’t have such a detailed justification we’re it that a gay Kenyan did the same. All said, there’s nothing wrong at all in having Quest at the church, that’s besides the point, all that’s needed is everyone to make a stand and accept everyone as they’re regardless of race, sexuality and all other dynamics. If you don’t conform, you make a solid stand and don’t move with the wind like a leaf in this case Mutua.

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Investigations

Dear DPP Noordin Why Is Kenya Pipeline MD Joe Sang A Free Man With Looting Evidences

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KPC MD Joe Sang addressing a press conference

Nobody can stop reggae when it comes to the new DJ in town, DPP Haji but it seems somebody can reduce the volume. We’ve seen parastatals chiefs arrested and arraigned in courts over corruption scandals and consequently bundled out of office.

Kenya Pipeline’s top management led by MD Ken Tarus whom were engaged in lightening embezzlement of public funds and abuse of office, were all arrested and sent home. It was the last large scale arrest that did not only restore hopes in the ODPP but gave a relief to the public who’re the victims of corporate exploitation.

Billions have been siphoned out of Kenya Pipeline and scams endlessly exposed. This site has been consistent together with other publications in highlighting the high scale siphoning and loofingbof public funds at the KPC offices.

KPC MD Joe Sang who’s a relative to the Energy CS and who’s appointment has been challenged with petitioners saying it wasn’t procedural and out of nepotism, is a man in focus not only over his overnight wealth acquisition but his network within the company that has now been losing billions to the cartels.

According to an intelligence report KPC MD Joe Sang-Nephew Hillary Langat 0722957996 is the lead money collector for KPC MD whose phone contacts can be traced to all KPC supplier who have been paid or awarded contracts.

He’s net worth is over a billion under KIMBELL INVESTMENTS Limited and LENKIM SERVICES LTD he hold the property on behalf of KPC MD JOE SANG

It doesn’t make any logical sense why the DPP is taking time and giving more time to KPC crooks to cook and evade their net. Sang continues to slay on tv screens denying corruption allegations in a standard style of all corrupt officials.

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According to our sources both at the DCI and at KPC, detectives had already raided the KPC offices and collected crucial evidences that would’ve been useful in preparing a case.

DCI Kinoti is on record saying the investigations are underway and one wonders why it hasn’t taken the speed of NYS thatbhad suspects rounded up in a short while. The thieves involved in the KPC theft that’s the top management are all known.

A serious lobbying has been going on behind the scenes as we gather from our sources to have the authorities go down on the investigations. Senior politicians both in Goverment and on retirement from Kalenjin, have been lobbying for the MD and tip management mostly the same community, to be spared and from the looks, the talks are paying off. Nothing is being heard of the investigations.

A number of DCI sources had intimated to Kenya Insights a few weeks ago on the completion of investigations and how all the files were ready and forwarded to the ODPP for arrests orders before cold water went over the case.

We’re now urging and reminding the DPP and DCI that we have our eyes on this case and other corruption scandals thriving in the public offices to be taken into full considerations. We want to assume that your competent offices haven’t been swallowed into petty political bargaining to let thieves go free.

It will be high class of double standards to implement the law selectively and go against your words that there are no sacred cows. We also would want EACC not to just watch from the fence but deeply scrutinize the wealth of KPC top bars. A lifestyle audit will unearth major scams in the company.

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Sear Noordin, we want to see the Sangs and mysterious lads in the KPC looting like David Muge aka MR.MD and every single person who’s stolen a cent at Kenya Pipeline, Arrested and arraigned in the courts. We don’t want to see criminal characters running key parastatals as KPC. We therefore demand for arrest and successful prosecution of MD Sang and his henchmen who must immediately be sacked. No sacred cow, you said Mr. Haji, over to you sir. We’re watching. The hashtag is #ArrestJoeSang


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