Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony has sued Kapsoit MCA Paul Chirchir for defamation over an article published in Citizen Weekly paper early June.
In a civil suit filed on June 18 at the Kericho High Court, Mr Chepkwony claims Mr Chirchir was behind publication of the article he termed as defamatory and portraying him as nepotistic and immoral.
The article quotes Mr Chirchir criticising the governor for creating two offices of the chief officer, allegedly in breach of the law.
“I came across an article in the Citizen Weekly on or about June 4, 2018, about me in a manner that was or is considered to be defamatory to me in the nature,” Prof Chepkwony says in the affidavit filed through his lawyer Peter Manyonge Wanyama.
He is unhappy with the indication by the publication that he had split the health and agriculture dockets into two so as to benefit two female officers.
“The said publication was caused by the defendant who is attributed as the source of the story. The defendant has since election into office waged defamatory campaign against me,” says Prof Chepkwony.
He further alleges that the manner in which the MCA was questioning the use of about Sh100 million for the case against British colonialists, and his move to create offices was akin to saying that the governor had abused his office, was a criminal and economic saboteur.
“In the words so published by the defendant, the innuendo in the said words were understood by right thinking members of the society to mean that the plaintiff is a criminal, not accountable to the residents of Kericho, has no regard for law and procedure of public appointments and has no integrity and is dishonourable,” he says in the affidavit.
The governor says the contents in the posting and words by the defendant against him amount to serious libel and has caused him grave damage, distress and embarrassment among family, peers and community at large.
Prof Chepkwony, attaching annexure of a copy of the Citizen Weekly story and printed copies of Mr Chirchir’s WhatsApp group posts to support his case, asks the court to bar Mr Chirchir, his agents or servants from publishing anymore defamatory statements against him pending the hearing and determination of the matter.
He also wants a permanent injunction restraining the MCA from writing, publishing, airing and any defamatory statements against the governor.
However, in his response filed on June 26, the MCA says the plaintiff has no reputation to protect “having attained his nadir— the lowest low as much as we shall demonstrate”.
“Take notice that the defendant intends to cross-examine the plaintiff on October 2, 2018 and should therefore attend court to provide more details on his support affidavit filed in court on June 12 and the generic but bare allegations made thereto,” reads the response.
Mr Chirchir opposes the governor’s application on grounds that it is illegal, incompetent and egregious as it amounts to a constitutional coup through the court (seeking to gag him from undertaking his constitutional roles).
“The court has no power within the intendment of the law to restrain the defendant as an MCA of Kericho from representation, oversight and legislation. The court cannot grant immunity to the plaintiff as a governor of Kericho County from democratic criticism and oversight,” he argues.
The matter will be mentioned in court on October 2.