NAIROBI. Kenya (ViaNews) – Three journalists in Kenya have been arraigned in court following their supposed involvement in the false publication of information and cybercrime.

The trio of David Ndolo, Stafford Ondego, and Alex Mulwa was allegedly all part of a plan to incriminate Kakamega Senator Hon. Cleophas Malalah.

This was yet another curious case of Kenyan politicians using journalists to do their bidding. The fourth estate in Kenya has suffered various blows in the last few months with some various personalities caught on the wrong side of the law.

Ndolo is a photojournalist at Mediamax Limited and has previously been nominated at the local Footballer of the Year-Sports Journalist category. Ondego is a photojournalist attached to Standard Media Group, one of the leading media houses in East Africa. Mulwa is also a photojournalist and thus would have had the skills to carry out the scheme.

On Wednesday, it emerged that Cabinet Secretary of Sports, Culture and the Arts Rashid Achesa reportedly paid the journalists Ksh.5,000 to engage in image manipulation that would defame Senator Malalah. The journalists were used to ‘photoshop’ Malalah’s head and place into another person who was alongside a non-existent nude woman. This was aimed at causing harm to the Senator and his family in a classic political spat.

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Achesa, loyal to Deputy President William Ruto and Malalah have been at loggerheads due to their different political allegiance. Malalah, who is an aide to opposition leader Raila Odinga, has time and again publicly questioned Achesa’s leadership credentials. He has previously taken a jibe at the Sports Minister because of his education background. Achesa dropped out of school in standard seven and went on to be a shrewd businessman that propelled his status.

Malalah, in turn, got wind of the situation on Wednesday and revealed all during a press conference. He was in possession of the journalists’ phones after they were arrested and gave the chronological account. According to the messages on the phones, it was Achesa who reached out to the journalists and tasked them with the work.

Shockingly, Malalah said that Achesa was bold enough to send him the final ‘edited’ picture which made him involve the police. The law enforcers then arrested the journalists and confiscated their phones.

According to the charge sheet that Via News is in possession of, the trio has been charged on two counts. First, the is the publication of false information contrary to Section 23 of Computer Misuse and Cyber Crime Act of 2018. Also wrongful distribution of obscene or intimate images.

A snippet of the requisition served to Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Achesa. Photo by: ViaNews.
A snippet of the requisition served to Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Achesa. Photo by: ViaNews.
The court charge sheet outlining charges to the three Kenyan journalists. Photo by: ViaNews.
The court charge sheet outlining charges to the three Kenyan journalists. Photo by: ViaNews.
A snippet of additional charges of offences the three Kenyan journalists have been purported to commit. Photo by: ViaNews.
A snippet of additional charges of offences the three Kenyan journalists have been purported to commit. Photo by: ViaNews.

“David Onyango Ndolo, Stafford Ondego and Alex Mulwa Nzyioki on the 23rd day of October 2018 at unknown time and place within the Republic of Kenya with others not before the court, published false information through social media to Facebook and WhatsApp platform with intent to discredit the reputation on Hon. Cleophas Malalah, the Senator of Kakamega County,” the charge sheet reads.

Malalah, Abel Kachiu, and Cpl. Morris Njige have been named as witnesses to the case. Separately, Achesa was summoned to appear at the Kenya International Conference Centre police station on Friday. This is because he is a person of interest in the case.

“I Dorothy Okoth, a police officer currently attached to the KICC [Kenyatta International Conference Centre] Police Station have a reason to believe that you Hon. Rashid Achesa have information that may assist in my investigation of the alleged offence of Cybercrime Act of 2018,” reads part of the requisition. Malalah has already urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to take swift action on Achesa regarding the incident.

Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by: Jorge Láscar.
Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by: Jorge Láscar.