16 October 2017

Kenya: Pastors Want Christian Radio Station Censored

An association of pastors in Mombasa County is seeking interim orders stopping a Christian radio station from broadcasting secular content.

Mombasa Pastors Fellowship Association on Monday told the court that they are key stakeholders of Coast-based Baraka FM Ltd and its board of directors.

Through lawyer Leonard Shimaka, the pastors said they are among individuals who established Baraka FM, which was to strictly broadcast Christian content.

"It was the first Christian station to be established in the country," Mr Shimaka said.

"The petitioners, being stakeholders, sought the broadcast licence of Baraka FM for the principle purpose of broadcasting the Gospel of our Lord within Coast region," reads the petition.


Mr Shimaka told Justice Eric Ogola that the station does not broadcast Christian content any more.

In its petition, the association wants the court to declare that the station's act of broadcasting non-religious content is a violation of Christian rights.

The pastors have sued the station's board of directors, Baraka FM Ltd, the Communications Authority of Kenya and the Attorney-General.

But through lawyer Kennedy Ngaira, the station's board of directors and Baraka FM Ltd said the dispute ought to be handled under the Kenya Information and Communication Regulations.


Mr Ngaira said the regulations provide ways of solving "a matter of this nature", hence having the case in court was acting before proper time.

"Never have they appeared before the dispute resolution to argue the issue. The petition is an abuse of the court process, it does not meet the requirements of the Constitution," Mr Ngaira said.

The pastors said that in 2000, the station was a non-profit religious corporation affiliated with Feba.

They further argued that in 2010, Baraka FM was changed to Baraka FM Ltd under the management of a Pastor Wafula.


They said that in 2012, Pastor Wafula was appointed by the board to replace Pastor Benjamin Nzimbo as the chairman, and took over the management of Baraka FM Ltd.

They claimed the board of directors and Baraka FM Ltd took over responsibilities as the new licensee, acquired a new PIN and began broadcast operations officially in 2015.

"They made substantial changes in the station's programme format and began broadcasting secular programmes," the pastors argued.

The pastors claimed they wrote a letter requesting the station to revert to its original intent and purpose of spreading the Gospel, and listed their preferred officials.

The court will deliver its ruling on December 19.


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