The Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) has warned the Council of Governors (CoG) over a decision to cut advertising ties with the Nation Media Group over a story linking eight governors to graft.
In a letter to COG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya on Thursday, EACC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Twalib Mbarak, said such a move is not only inappropriate but illegal as it violates article 10 and article “…it offends the Constitution and relevant laws that govern acquisition of goods and services by public entities,” the EACC boss said.
“Any accounting officer or any other public officer who may proceed to implement such unlawful instructions will be held personally liable.”
The EACC boss said CoG’s resolution to blacklist NMG violates article 10 and 227 (1,3 and 21) of the Kenyan Constitution.
Article 10 stipulates national values and principles of governance while Article 227 states that, when a state organ or other public entity contracts for goods or services, it shall do so in accordance with a system that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective.
“Your letter, therefore, amounts to unlawful instructions and the contemplated action by county government could render all culpable persons liable to the applicable legal consequences including criminal prosecution,” Mbarak said.
The governors’ move has received condemnation from the Media Council of Kenya and the Media Owners Association.
In a statement yesterday, MCK CEO David Omwoyo said the move is in bad faith and a threat to media freedom.
“Any complaint against any journalist or media enterprise is to be channelled to the Media Complaints Commission operating under the auspices of the Media Council of Kenya for determination and appropriate action. These are the stipulations of the law and regulations governing the media sector, which binds the public, government and media itself, ” said Omwoyo.
“Accordingly, the CoG cannot of its own accord term the media as unprofessional. Such action amounts to taking the law into their own hands and proceeding to pronounce judgement on an issue it is not made to prosecute. The correct action would be for the CoG to lodge its complaint to the Media Complaints Commission to determine the matter guided by the ethical code of journalism appended to the media law in Kenya.”
The CEO said the governors’ resolution amounts to manipulation and intimidation of the media and should be withdrawn forthwith.
“Public money should never be used as tool of control and manipulation by those entrusted with its usage. This supposed sanction by the Governors calls into question the very process and rationale for financial decision-making at the county-level, ” said Omwoyo.