It has emerged that 15 journalists at Nation Media Group are targeted for sacking for allegedly being anti-government in their reporting.
The sacking of Sunday Nation News Editor Mugumo Munene and Investigations Editor Andrew Teyie could be part of the clear out of journalists earmarked by State House during His Highness the Aga Khan’s visit to Kenya last December. The two were handed redundancy letters Friday March 4th 2016 in a move that surprised many in the media industry.
It is understood the Aga Khan, the principal shareholder in Nation Media Group through the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (Akfed), was given a list of journalists whose coverage of corruption and governance issues the Jubilee government is uncomfortable with during the Jamhuri Day luncheon at State House, Nairobi, and asked to do something about it.
The Imam of Ismailia Muslims, who founded the Nation and who has vast economic interests in various sectors in Kenya and the region, is said to have handed the list to the NMG board for action in what is seen as a way to protect his businesses.
“Just wait and see. More top guys are set to go in the coming days and weeks,” said our source on strict condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter. The sackings come ahead of the expected visit by the Aga Khan either late this month or early next month.
This claim has been backed by Senior Counsel Paul Muite, who wrote on his Twitter account today, saying the 15 have already been sacked.
It appears Nation Special Projects Editor Denis Galava, who was suspended and later dismissed for “not following due process and endangering the group’s business” when he penned a hard-hitting editorial critical of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s leadership in 2015, was the first casualty of the purge.
The Sunday Nation under the stewardship of Group Managing Editor Eric Obino, a shrewd businessman said to be incorruptible, is one of the independent papers in the NMG stable.
Stories abound of the many times he has resisted editorial interference or even acceding to demands for apology or retraction of stories carried in the paper. However, this protection that Sunday Nation editors thought they enjoyed fizzled out recently when Editor in Chief Tom Mshindi pulled down a story about corruption at the Kenya School of Government.
It is said the article, which detailed misuse of funds on a staff trip to Mombasa, had already been laid out on the page but Mr Mshindi moved in and killed it despite reports that the scandal is being probed by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
Whether or not this was the beginning of the end for Obino’s team remains to be seen.
The management has also been probing claims that some Ksh7 million from the National Youth Service (NYS) scandal was funnelled to some Nation journalists. The sacking of Galava had already cast aspersions on the media house’s independence and former top editors Charles Onyango Oboo and Macharia Gaitho warned the repercussions will be dire.
In recent weeks, NMG has been running a series of campaigns depicting it as the only media house that reports the truth in a bid to win back readers and it will be surprising if it were to, at the same time, undermine these spirited efforts.
That things are not rosy at the twin towers, as Nation Centre is known in media circles, were buttressed Friday when Daily Nation Group Managing Editor Mutuma Mathiu, in his column, complained that he and another top editor on Wednesday evening received threats from a senior security official over a story that was to run in the Thursday edition.
Mr Mutuma, another hot-headed editor at NMG, did not indicate who the senior security official was, the nature of the story or how the official came to know it was to run, only stating senior editors were recalled back to the office to review its content.