Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery on Wednesday backed down from an arrest order for journalists who published stories questioning how Sh3.8 billion was spent by his ministry.
Even as he reversed the decision, condemnation continued to mount over his orders.
The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution said the CS had no powers to order the arrest because such an order contravened the freedom of the press enshrined in the Constitution.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi also ruled that police had no powers to arrest journalists within the precincts of Parliament, which extends to the MP’s offices, where Mr Ngirachu was arrested, without the authority of the Speaker.
“We will not entertain (it) and should it occur, we will deal with it in accordance with the law,” he said.
Gen (Rtd) Nkaissery on Wednesday directed the police to terminate investigations against Nation parliamentary Editor John Ngirachu, Standard Group journalist Alphonce Shiundu and Mr James Mbaka of The Star, who had been summoned to record statements over the stories they wrote last week.
“As far as I am concerned, it was not an arrest, it was a request for the journalist to record a statement on where he got that privileged information. There was no order to arrest, I also saw it on the TV as you did, I don’t regret something I did not do,” said Gen Nkaissery.
The police who whisked off Mr Ngirachu to record a statement on Tuesday said on Wednesday that no one else would be questioned over the case.
This was after Standard senior reporter Alphonce Shiundu appeared at the criminal investigations headquarters on Kiambu Road to record his statement.
Mr Shiundu had been summoned by the head of the serious crimes office in connection with a story about the exorbitant expenditure.
Upon arrival, however, he was informed by the head of investigations, Mr John Kariuki, that he was no longer required to record a statement because he (Mr Kariuki) had been instructed to discontinue investigating the three journalists.
“We are glad to report that he was not arrested. However, he has not recorded a statement,” said Siaya Senator James Orengo, who had accompanied Mr Shiundu.
In the Senate, Gen Nkaissery came under criticism, with members demanding an explanation for the orders, which they warned would return the country to the "dark days" of the Kanu regime.
Reports by Elizabeth Merab, Benson Matheka, Dennis Odunga and Muchemi Wachira