A Magistrate has issued summonses against two Journalists – Edmond Nyabola and Emanuel Juma -over contempt of court.
The applicant, Child Welfare Society of Kenya, had successfully obtained a court order restraining Nation Media Group from airing an ‘expose’ on alleged child exploitation at the institution.
If the court okays the contempt proceedings, the two may be subjected to civil jail of up to six months imprisonment.
The order, after an oral cross-examination of the the process server – Willis Agayi, in court on 29 June this year. The Magistrate was satisfied that the courts decision was duly served on 1 October 2019. It was served before prime time news at the Nation Centre.
However, Emmanuel Juma in a sworn statement on 11 October last year, claimed he was not served with the said orders. But the judge was convinced by the process servers cross examination that the order was duly served on 2October 2019.
Also, Nyabola had avered that he was off duty on the said 1October 2019 and therefore was not served with the court order. He further claimed he did not receive any message on WhatsApp.
“ The orders were received in the mailroom after 5 pm. This was after the ordinary working hours. The order was then served the next day on the group’s head of legal at 3p.m long after the expose had aired and their failure to serve the order in time is unfair and cannot be allowed by the court,” swore Nyabola, in his statement filed in court.
Justice DO Mbeja issued the summonses directing the two who are associated with of Nation Media Group, to explain why contempt proceedings should not be commenced, for total disregard of valid court orders, by reputable members of the fourth estate.
“ Mr. Edmond Nyabola and Emmanuel Juma to appear before this court and show cause why they should not be punished for contempt of all circumstances considered,” goes the court order.
Further, the magistrate noted: News is the first draft of history…no matter how good or bad a story is, members of the fourth estate ought to discharge their duties within the confines of the law and obedience of court orders.
Black’s Law Dictionary (Ninth Edition) defines contempt of court as: “ Conduct that defies the authority or dignity of a court. Because such conduct interferes with the administration of justice, it is punishable usually by fine or imprisonment.”
The media house was restrained from publishing the story titled ‘ Sins of Savior’ or related article touching on the plaintiff and forming the subject of the court proceedings.
But, on 1 October 2019, the story was aired and replicated through YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook platforms. This, Child Welfare Society, avers was aimed at bringing the court proceedings to public disrepute, and ridicule.