Journalists in Kakamega Threaten News Blackout Over Death Threats

Journalists in Kakamega Threaten News Blackout Over Death Threats
Journalists from Kakamega County

By Jael Sada

Journalists in Kakamega County have threatened to stop covering functions by the County Government of Kakamega if no action is taken against the Chief Officer of Medical Services.

The Chief Officer is accused of issuing death threats to a journalist who was following up on a story about the suspension of ambulance services by the Kenya Red Cross.

According to the journalist, Douglas Dindi, a reporter with the People Daily, the Chief Officer threatened to kill him if he published the story.

"When I entered the office, the chief officer did not give me a chance to speak, and as if he knew I needed the information, he began ranting at me and literally pushed me out of his office physically after threatening to kill me if I published the story I was following up," he said.

Dindi was forced to file an official report at Kakamega Central Police Station.

In a press statement outside the police station, the Kakamega-based journalists, led by their Chairperson Hilton Otenyo, condemned the act.

"We, the undersigned journalists, collectively condemn Dr. David Anekeya Alila, the Chief Officer of Medical Services in the County Government of Kakamega, for allegedly issuing death threats to Mr. Dindi when he sought clarification over a story," Otenyo said.

The same Chief Officer is alleged to have previously threatened other journalists, including Mr. Hilton Otenyo, a reporter for the Star Newspaper.

The journalists have raised concerns about similar instances involving other government officials, stating that a threat to journalists is a threat to the public's right to access information.

"It is not only Alila who is a threat to journalists, but also other senior county officials in the Executive and County Enforcement Unit," they said.

They are now calling on the accused officer to issue a public apology, and for legal action to be taken against him, stating that such intimidation tactics are unacceptable.

"As journalists, we firmly believe in the fundamental principles of press freedom as enshrined in the constitution, and we strongly condemn threats as completely unacceptable. We urge both the county government and national authorities to promptly address the threat made against our colleague," stated Daniel Nabwayo, the Vice Chairperson of the Kenya Correspondents Association, Western region.

However, they have cautioned that unless their concerns are addressed, they will refrain from covering stories related to the Kakamega County government.