The founder and publisher of one of Kenya’s boldest publications, the Nairobi Law Monthly, has condemned a raid on the magazine’s offices.
Addressing a news conference in Parliament Friday, Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara said the raid had all the hallmarks of one carried out by “hired goons” and that it resonated with the 2006 raid on the offices of the Standard newspapers and the Kenya Television Network.
“Every indication is that these were not common thugs,” said Mr Imanyara about the 2am raid in which guards were beaten and office equipment like computers vandalized at the magazine’s offices in Nairobi’s Parklands area. He said that if the “thugs” were after computers, then they’d have raided a computer shop and not the publication with just a handful of the machines.
He termed it as a “carefully planned operation” where not only were the guards neutralised, but also the closed-circuit television cameras were disabled.
Mr Imanyara revealed that the publication was working on a “comprehensive story about the Kenya Revenue Authority” but went ahead to explain that neither him nor the publisher had any evidence to link the raid to “any story or any individual”.
The MP said that the raid was “identical” to the similar raids carried out by the government back in the day when he was the publisher of the magazine. He noted that the current publisher, Mr Ahmednassir Abdullahi, a renowned lawyer, scholar and commissioner in the Judicial Service Commission had received threats and following the raid “he is convinced that this is not a normal crime”.
“Whoever raided the premises is sending a chilling message that censorship is much alive in Kenya. But the publisher has assured me that no amount of threats will stop him from publishing. There may be delays in the next issue which was expected later this month, but they’ll continue to publish,” said Mr Imanyara.
The lawmaker said the publication, which has broken stories about major scandals in the country and fearlessly exposed malfeasance in the corridors of power, had now become a target by the anti-reform forces that are against the implementation of the Constitution.
“This is a sad reminder that the process of implementation of the Constitution remains a priority. As we enter the political phase of campaigning, every Kenyan must be vigilant to ensure that press freedom is protected,” said Mr Imanyara. “This may be a small publication, but a threat to any media outlet is a threat to press freedom.”
The MP expressed doubts that Kenya’s police had the capacity to investigate the raid saying their record at investigating such raids had not shown any commitment to bringing the culprits to book.
“While it is true that the police were at the scene this morning, we must remember that they also visited the scene at the Standard Group I&M offices five years ago…we do not want their antics of creating an appearance of investigation,” he said.
“Given their track record, there are suspicions that they’ll not conduct proper investigations or that this is a cover-up”.