Police have summoned Standard journalist Vincent Achuka over a story he did that exposed a security breach on the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA)’s airside by an aircraft company operating on the Mogadishu route.

According to summons seen by Business Today, Achuka was facilitated to access of an airport facility by security officials of Kenya Airways on 23/02/2018 without getting access permits from the airports operator, Kenya Airports Authority. He is required to report to the JKIA police station on Friday, March 16, 2018.

According to the letter seeking to have Achuka compelled to appear before the JKIA OCS, he will be required to shed light on circumstances of his entry at the vital state installation.

However, Media Council of Kenya and the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ), through its CEO David Omwoyo and secretary general Erick Oduor respectively, have protested, terming the summons harassment and intimidation of the journalist.

Omwoyo says since Achuka is a fully accredited journalist, the police should take the matter to the council to be deal with the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya.

The Standard has previously denied it was facilitated by KQ staff to do the story, which led to the suspension of the permit given to Jetways Airlines — a local carrier — which was said to be running unchecked operations in its miraa exports to volatile Somalia leading to protests from the national carrier. Two of its staffers were arraigned in court to face trespass charges.

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The publication of the story caused a storm and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet personally led a team to investigate the incident. There were fears the security breach could lead to the downgrading of JKIA’s Category 1 international status and put in jeopardy’s planned direct flights to the US.

“It is disheartening that the police continue to threaten the independence of journalists, under the guise of airport security. Vincent was covering an official function at the airport with the relevant security clearance. The protection of journalists on duty and more so, their sources is paramount and we, therefore, condemn the summones and call on police to withdraw them immediately,” said Omwoyo.

In its statement, KUJ says Achuka’s alleged offence is demonstration that East Africa’s biggest and busiest Airport is in the hands of incompetent people, who fleece taxpayers every month in salaries only to sleep on the job.

“Mr Achuka, has demonstrated bravery, an important ingredient of investigative journalism, by verifying information given to him by his sources to ensure the story is accurate and factual. We wish to advise Kenya Airports Authority and Kenya Airways, who are the main complainants in this matter, to demand accountability from their officers, charged with responsibility of securing our airports and licensing of users instead of training their guns on messengers,” said Oduor.

He added that if indeed Mr Achuka was able to access the airside of the airport for the purposes of corroborating his facts, then the real culprits who have abdicated their duties must be called out.

“Kenya Union of Journalists is in solidarity with Mr Achuka, who has heeded to the calling to go out of his way, despite risks involved, to inform the public the existing security lapses at the airport. Kenya police and other security personnel at the airport should appreciate Mr Achuka’s work, and use it to seal loopholes that can lead to serious consequences on the status of JKIA as a category one airport,” said the KUJ secretary general.

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“Last but not least, we congratulate Mr Achuka for the bravery, and bringing to the attention of Kenyans security lapses at Jomo Kenyatta International. We urge him to do follow-ups. It is so yesterday for any parastatal or police officers to believe that summoning journalists to record statements will restore order at JKIA’s cargo terminal.”

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1 comment

  1. Why run to punish a messenger, just doing his job, when on becoming parties to the Chicago Convention, Kenya agreed to certain principles and arrangements as enshrined under Annex 17 to the Chicago Convention in order that international civil aviation may be developed in a safe, secure and orderly manner ?
    Is not it clear to all the aviation stakeholders that, the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation requires that all civil aviation operations be conducted under internationally accepted standards, procedures and practices. Hence, the enactment of the Civil Aviation Act No 21 of 2013 and the Legal Notice No 190 the Civil Aviation (Security) Regulations 2015.
    If anything instead of victimizing the journalist for the whistleblowing, he should be commended for bringing to light a pertinent breach to National Security. In which the KCAA as the Approriate Authority for Aviation Security in Kenya failed in the undertaking of its responsibility under the State Oversight preserve enshrined within prescriptions of the ICAO Doc 10047, that of the Critical Element- CE-7. Quality control obligations. Annex 17 Standard 3.4 Quality control and qualifications, Standard 4.2 Measures relating to access control, and Standard 4.6 Measures relating to cargo, mail and other goods, respectively.
    All of which are further enforced by the Legal Notice No.190 of 2015 Regulations 45 Conditions for acceptance of goods for air transportation. Regulations 46 Conditions for acceptance of hold baggage for air transportation and Regulations 47—Security measures to be taken by aircraft operator. All of which categorically stipulates and demand the KCAA having the rule of the thumb on the implementation of processes, such as audits, inspections, surveys and tests, to proactively ensure that entities such as KAA, KAPU, KAHL and Service Providers authorized and/or approved to perform aviation security activities at the KAHL Cargo Terminal. Their continuance in meeting the established requirements, operating at the level of competency and security required by the State, its Civil Aviation Law and the supporting Regulations.
    The long story short, instead of victimizing the messenger, the KCAA Director General Capt. Kibe, the KCAA Security Director, KAA Security Manager and KAPU Commander should resign or be held accountable for their professional negligence and failure to adhere to their own laws and their professional responsibilities therewith.

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