MPs Tuesday narrated how they have been cyberbullied by people seeking funds and others sending them nude photos.
Majority Leader Aden Duale and Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa told the National Assembly how a woman, whom they did not name, has made them afraid of using their phones while with their colleagues or family members as she has been sending them her nude photos.
“There is a lady who has the phone numbers of all the MPs and keeps sending us nude photos,” said Duale.
“This matter is serious, as it has broken many families and must be brought to an end,” said Mr Wamalwa.
The Kiminini lawmaker narrated how one day he received some nude photos while sitting with a female MP in Parliament and when he opened them, he felt ashamed and embarrassed.
Minority Leader Junet Mohamed said that male MPs faced cyber-bullying even more than their female counterparts.
“I have received some photos on my phone that you cannot see with your naked eyes. ‘The pictures are so dangerous that you only pray they should not come when you are with your family or when your child gets your phone," he said.
“Sometimes you are on suspicion watch in the House and when those photos pop up, it becomes difficult to deal with. The biggest problem we face nowadays is cyber-crime. We have been bullied, seduced and the careers of some politicians have ended due to cyber-bullying.”
Baringo Woman Representative Kaptuya Cheboiwo said it was not only the male MPs who faced harassment but even the women, some of whom were also being seduced online.
“Male MPs think they are the only ones being seduced. We are also being seduced left, right and centre,” she said.
“If you have a husband who has weak shock absorbers, you can easily get divorced,” Ms Cheboiwo added.
The matter was brought up by Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, who issued a statement on the floor of the House, complaining how con individuals had been registering mobile numbers of MPs and using them to solicit funds from an unsuspecting public.
Ms Chege pointed out that the individuals had mainly been targeting members who are either bereaved or have fund-drives and send text messages to other MPs alleging that they are in urgent need of funds.
“The phones used are usually registered in the victims’ names, and the targeted members, will not be suspicious and in the spirit of supporting a colleague, will oblige and send the money as requested,” Ms Chege said.
Most of the MPs who rose to comment about the matter narrated how they had been harassed and affected at a personal level.
Consequently, the MPs have summoned the Inspector-General Police Joseph Boinnet, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, Director General of Communication Authority Francis Wangusi, mobile service providers– Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom –to appear before them in seven days.
They will be expected to explain what they are doing to curb the offence, which the MPs complained was getting out of hand with police appearing incapable of dealing with the suspects.
MATTER VERY SERIOUS
“This matter is very serious and cannot be taken lightly and the Committee of National Administration and Security should deal with it," Speaker Justin Muturi said.
‘‘We are not summoning the individuals not because we are victims, but other Kenyans, too, have suffered at the hands of cyber-bullies."
Mr Duale also accused a popular blogger of opening a social media account with his photo and allegedly using it to solicit money from other people.
“The blogger has been getting money using my name by cheating people that I’m offering jobs and they should give out some money to get the opportunities,” he said.
Minority Leader John Mbadi blamed the high rate of unemployment among youth for the increased rate of cyber bullying.
He confessed that he and his wife had suffered after being targeted by online bullies and blamed the CID for failing to act decisively to stem the vice.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa also blamed the police and the CID, arguing that “their ineptitude in dealing with the menace”, which had become rampant in the country.