A vicious fight has exploded at the Standard Group pitting a clique of editors and the journalist who penned the story on an affidavit that exposed allegations of informal dealings between the National Super Alliance (Nasa) and two Supreme Court Judges.
The battle began when The Standard newspaper exposed details of a petition that was filed with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) claiming that Supreme Court Judges Isaac Lenaola and Philomena Mwilu met several times with NASA leaders Moses Wetangula and James Orengo at Menelik Hospital in Nairobi during the hearing of Raila Odinga’s petition against the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The story that was filed by Standard reporter Mwaniki Munuhe caused a storm in the newsroom with accusations that it had been planted by the government. Munuhe is highly connected within government and was linked to the National Youth Service (NYS) by saloonist Josephine Kabura as the media spin doctor behind positive stories about then Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, now the Kirinyaga governor.
According to reliable sources within the Standard Group, the story also divided senior managers within the company as some, who are largely seen as Jubilee sympathisers insisted that piece by Munuhe met the required standards for publication having been based on a duly filed petition. But sections of other editors with deep links with Nasa claim that the Jubilee government used Munuhe to plant the story in The Standard.
However, the same day the story appeared, JSC wrote a letter acknowledging it had received the petition. Justice Lenaola has threatened to sue for defamation.
The undercurrents at the Mombasa Road-based media house blew up on Wednesday when communication by Radio Maisha Managing Editor Tom Jappani in an inhouse executive Whatsapp group on Munuhe was leaked to the newsroom. Jappani reportedly told senior managers that Munuhe cannot be trusted and should be suspended because of planting the story.
It is believed that some senior managers leaked the screen shots of Jappani’s comments to Munuhe.
The leakage was confirmed on Thursday after Jappani complained to the Human Resources Department that Munuhe had confronted him with evidence of a message that Jappani had sent to senior managers insisting that he should be punished for planting the story. It is reported that the exchange between Munuhe and Jappani was a bitter one.
“The battle here is high voltage,” said one of our sources in the administration department. “We have heard that Jappani has complained to HR because Munuhe apparently confronted him with evidence that he sent to the company’s executive Whatsapp platform claiming that he should be suspended allegedly because he was used by the government to plant the story. Other editors have, however, defended the story saying it was based on a petition and that the newspaper only reported on it in pursuit of public interest.”
“The problem is that people who have soft spots for both Nasa and Jubilee are at war and it is not a small battle.”
The battle is bigger because Group Editorial Director Joseph Odindo’s contract has expired but the acting CEO Mr Orlando Lyomu, who doubles as the Chief Operating Officer, has apparently refused to let him go. It also emerged that former CEO Sam Shollei, who has since left the company, is still a member of the company’s executive Whatsapp group, a matter that has raised temperatures at the level of shareholders of the company. The matter is now being handled by the group’s Human Resources Department.