Protests As Bungoma Governor Accused Of Harrassing RMS Journalist

The governor had attempted to contact the journalist to  threaten him after he was reportedly tipped off by an editor that Simiyu had filed a story Simiyu was chasing.

Protests As Bungoma Governor Accused Of Harrassing RMS Journalist

Journalists took to the streets of Bungoma County on Monday, June 14, protesting the alleged threats by Governor Wycliffe Wangamati directed at Royal Media Services (RMS) reporter Jimmy Simiyu.

A total of 41 scribes had called for more protection and freedom to carry out their work and demanded that cases of harassment and violence meted on journalists in recent weeks be investigated.

In a memorandum to the County Commissioner and Clerk of the County Assembly, the journalists expressed displeasure with the conduct of the Bungoma Governor following threat to Simiyu, a journalist with Sulwe FM, part of the RMS station.

Journalists protest in Bungoma after its Governor was accused of harassing a reporter from Royal Media Services. /FILE

“The threats coming from a person from the Governor’s rank need not to be ignored or taken lightly,” they said in a joint statement.

They demanded for the Governor to be summoned to record a statement on the same and issue a public apology to the victim.

Earlier in the day, the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) issued a statement condemning the threats by Governor Wangamati.

The governor had attempted to contact the journalist to  threaten him after he was reportedly tipped off by an editor that Simiyu had filed a story Simiyu was chasing.

“The Media Council condemns threats by Bungoma Governor Hon Wycliffe Wangamati directed at Royal Media Services reporter Jimmy Simiyu over a story he has been pursuing.

“The Council is also aware of allegations that the Governor called the reporter to threaten him after an editor from the media house tipped him off about the story that the reporter had filed over an event held in Bungoma County on Saturday 12th June 2021,” MCK’s statement read in part.

Simiyu told colleagues who accompanied him to report the incident that he had been threatened with death by the governor who was furious about the ‘negative story.

Following the alleged threat, Simiyu reached out to the Media Council and was advised to file a complaint with the police. He reported the matter at the Bungoma police station.

He added that the Governor had called him even before the story was aired and blamed his editor for leaking the information to the county boss.

The said editor was allegedly paid Ksh3,100 to kill the story.

The incident has ignited a fresh storm among media practitioners who have condemned the Governor’s approach as well as the editor for being unprofessional and bringing the industry to disrepute. 

KUJ Secretary General Eric Oduor vowed to follow the development to its conclusion to get to the truth of the matter with a view of protecting journalists.

“We already have a name…this editor must vomit the money,” Oduor declared.

Journalists march on the streets of Bungoma County protesting harassment by Governor Wangamati on the RMS reporter Jimmy Simiyu. /FILE