Blogger Cyprian Nyakundi has been charged with publishing false information at a time the country is grappling with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Nyakundi, who was arraigned at Kibera Law Courts in Nairobi on Wednesday, is accused of contravening the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act 2018, which prohibits the publication of unverified information.
According to the police, Nyakundi, through a tweet, falsely claimed that James Mburu, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner General, had defied the government’s self-quarantine directive after flying in from the United States of America (USA).
The information, the police said, was meant to cause panic at a time the country is fighting COVID-19.
The police also accused the blogger of injuring Mr Mburu’s reputation.
“On 23rd day of March, 20 at an unknown place within the Republic of Kenya, posted on your Twitter account Cyprian is, Nyakundi to wit ‘KRA CG jetted back from US and started having meetings before the 14 days quarantine. But my question is, must these guys still fly out, what’s more important? Cyprian Nyakundi ‘ knowing it to be false and calculated to cause panic and fears among citizens of the Republic of Kenya and to maliciously injure Mr James Githii Mburu’s reputation as a person, ” the charge sheet reads.
Nyakundi pleaded not guilty and was freed on Ksh150,000 cash bail.
He was arrested on March 25 and the charges were deferred.
Prior to his arrest, he had been summoned by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) via a WhatsApp message. He was supposed to present himself at Central Police Station at 3 pm, the same day.
Nyakundi had earlier claimed that he had received word that Mr Mburu had paid detectives to arrest him.
“I have received reports that KRA CG has paid some detectives to arrest me because I posted that he flew out and never quarantined for 14 days. No need to look for me @DCI_Kenya Just summon me and I’ll come. We are aware of the crackdown on bloggers,” he wrote.
Nyakundi becomes the second blogger to be charged this month over information regarding the situation of COVID-19 in the country.
On March 23, Robert Alai was charged with publishing false information on COVID-19 pandemic.
Alai, who was arraigned at Miliamni Law Courts, was accused of publishing false information on coronavirus deaths, an act the prosecution said was meant to cause panic and fear.
He denied the charges and was freed on bail.