14 February 2013

Kenya: CCK and Tobiko Tussle Over Royal Media Saga

The Communication Commission of Kenya wants media mogul SK Macharia arrested and charged. The commission has accused Director of Public Prosecutions Tobiko Keriako of being a stumbling block to the prosecution of Macharia for operating 17 illegal radio stations.

CCK has shut down the 17 Royal Media Group Services transmitters which it claims were operated illegally. Last week Tobiko temporarily blocked the intended prosecution of Macharia by CCK.

Tobiko's letter came after the CCK announced it was planning to institute criminal proceedings against Macharia for flouting laws governing the use of radio transmitters. Tobiko instead ordered the CCK to give him all the materials and facts surrounding the shutdown the transmitters.

In a letter copied to the Inspector General of Police and CID director Ndegwa Muhoro, Tobiko also stopped all forms of action aimed at charging Macharia and his employees until he gives the go ahead.

"I direct that no investigative agency should take any precipitate steps to charge RMS and or SK Macharia or any of its employees until I receive and review the requested material and direct otherwise," he said.

But in a letter to Tobiko dated February 13, CCK director general Francis Wangusi clarifies that the enforcement action recently undertaken was in relation to 17 illegal broadcasting stations.

Wangusi said concerns raised by Tobiko are "pre-emptive" and the allegations raised by Royal Media are misplaced. He says the commission informed Royal Media to "cease and desist" from offending acts to no avail.

"In the circumstances there are ongoing civil proceedings in respect of some unauthorised transmissions," he said. According to the letter, the 17 stations are not subject of any judicial proceedings or orders and defends the decision to switch them off because the process was within the law.

Wangusi clarifies that where the Commission suspects violation of the Kenya Information Act, it liaises with the police to impound evidence and conduct investigations.

"This was the process followed in the recent enforcement exercise. I am reliably informed has since forwarded files to your office for further action," he said.

"As a country we are living on the balance in view of the continued perpetuation of impunity." Wangusi says the destructive impact of self assignment of spectrum cannot be over emphasised.

"The justice system must see to it that it is not used to defeat the very justice it is itself established to achieve," he said.

Wangusi added that the police have been "tremendously helpful" in liaising with the commission to obtain evidence of criminals acts.

"The ball is in your court to finalise the process we began and I would be grateful if your office would move with speed to consider the police reports and proceed as appropriate," he said.

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