Journalists Kicked Out as CS Matiang'i Drives Self to Senate

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i driving himself to Parliament on Wednesday, August 19, 2020.
Interior CS Fred Matiang'i driving himself to Parliament on Wednesday, August 19, 2020.

UPDATE Wednesday August 19: Media Council of Kenya condemn the decision by Senate Security Committee to bar journalist from Interior CS Fred Matiang'i grilling.

In a statement, the media watchdog urged Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka to address the growing trend of journalists' frustrations arguing that it impeded freedom of the press.

"The treatment meted out on journalists by the committee chair, Hon. Yusuf Haji, the Senator for Garrisa, was not only unacceptable, but representative of a worrying trend where journalists in the course of duty are barred from crucial proceedings of legislative bodies both at national and county levels, without justifiable reasons," read the statement in part.

Journalists were on Wednesday, August 19, kicked out of the Senate where a grilling of Interior CS Fred Matiang'i was ongoing over the arrest of three Senators.

The CS drove himself to Parliament Buildings at midday before reporters were kicked out of the Senate precincts.

The CS is said to have found journalists waiting for him when he arrived but moments before his session with the Senate Security Committee, they were shown the door.

The reporters argued that they had received press invites to the event but they were asked to leave by the committee chairman, Senator Yussuf Haji.

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i speaks at the National Chief's Forum in Nairobi on Friday, July 3, 2020

“What are you doing here, I don’t remember inviting you here, go back we will call you later,” Haji reportedly said.

Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and his Makueni counterpart were aggrieved by the decision to bar journalists from covering Matiang'i's appearance arguing that the committee was denying the public the truth.

"I am shocked that the Senate Committee on Security chased the media from a sitting inquiring the illegal arrest of Senators. If the committee cannot stand up for colleagues, the institution of Senate and democracy, then something is really rotten in the State of Kenya," stated Murkomen.

"I disagree with the decision of the Senate Commitee on security barring media from the grilling of the CS Interior on the unlawful arrest and detention of Senators Malala , Lelegwe and Langat. The public have a right to know," added Kilonzo.

Matiang'i, on Monday, August 17, failed to honour a summon by the Senate over the arrests of the three Senators.

He had been summoned to explain the arrests of Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala his Bomet counterpart Christopher Langat and Steve Lelegwe (Samburu).

Haji had explained that the CS failed to show up for grilling because he was on leave as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta but senators were not buying it.

Siaya Senator James Orengo was at the time incensed by Matiang'i's snub arguing that Senate summons needed to be taken more seriously than those from the High Court.

"The summon of Parliament, in my view, supersedes the summon of the High Court because we make the law," he asserted at the time.

Senators argued that Matiang'i had, on the same day, participated in a live televised launch of the boda boda Information Management System, a public event yet he purported to be on leave.

"We will not live on our knees. If you direct that we proceed there will be chaos. We cannot proceed when senators are being taken across the country on the highway.

"This is not a laughing matter. We must speak as a Senate. Enforce your direction, my speaker. You are not an inferior person to the CS," an angered Kilonzo told Speaker Kenneth Lusaka.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala (in blue) resists arrest at his home in Kitengela, Nairobi, on August 17, 2020.
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