Larry Madowo: How I Evaded Police Arrest

  • BBC Africa Business Editor, Larry Madowo, once found himself inches away from boarding one of those police land cruisers that often lead to a torturous experience.

    Speaking during his acceptance speech for the Association of Foreign Correspondents (AFC) in the US on November 4, 2019, at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute in New York, Madowo gave a chilling tale of how despite being forced to run away from NTV studios to evade the police.

    In his speech, Madowo revealed that after the contentious general elections in 2017, his decision to champion for the coverage of symbolic swearing-in of opposition leader Raila Odinga as the people’s president landed him in trouble with the authorities.

    "I had to evade arrest by my own government and ended up in a safe house. We crouched under a car that came out of the basement of the building where I used to work," he recalled.

    Linus Kaikai (right) and journalists Ken Mijungu (left) and Larry Madowo gather for an interview at Nation Centre on February 1, 2018.

    "We were basically at the very bottom of the belly of the car, but we somehow managed to getaway. It's very dramatic in the movies, but in real life, it's very smelly so please vacuum your cars," he joked.

    He then went ahead to explain that the situation was extremely tense back then, with the government pulling the unprecedented move of shutting down three major media houses, in a bid to ensure that Raila's planned swearing-in ceremony did not receive any sort of national coverage.

    The Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i termed the National Super Alliance (NASA) events at Uhuru Park as a well-choreographed attempt to overthrow a legally constituted Government of Kenya.

    "I was an anchor and an editor at one of the stations -NTV, and I was on the air when our signal was taken off the air and I became one of the most critical opponents of this attempt to muzzle us," Madowo further narrated.

    The former NTV journalist explained that his decision to directly oppose the government's direct assault on the media was the reason why they were targeted by what he termed as a 'special wing' of the police that was allegedly known for enforced disappearances.

    On February 2, 2018, the High Court barred the Government from arresting Nation Media Group (NMG) journalists Linus Kaikai, Madowo, and Ken Mijungu, with Justice Luka Kimaru further granting the three an anticipatory bail of Ksh100,000 each.

    his employer tried to muzzle him in order to appease the government that was breathing down their necks.

    Madowo revealed that he was quite surprised when the Daily Nation -where he served as a colmnist, refused to publish a story he had penned down regarding his experience at the hands of the police.

    "We're going to be taking you off the air for a little bit, just until things cool down, and also, you can't interview these people. The situation was unacceptable to me and I published the article on CNN and quit my job," he explained.

    Watch Madowo's gripping speech below: