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Veteran journalist appeals Kimaiyo gag order

07 October 2014, 19:00 Arap Yego

Bungoma - Former media practitioners have faulted the new directive by Inspector General (IG) of police, David Kimaiyo that gags local police bosses from commenting on matters related to crime in the country.

Walinywa Wabwoba, a retired veteran journalist from Bungoma County said the new directive by the police boss is both 'retrogressive' and against the freedom of information.

Wabwoba explained that it will be hard for the Inspector General of police to comment on each and every crime happening in all the parts of the country, as well as for journalists to do their work.

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"With the new rule, the work of journalists especially those in the grassroots will be complicated. There's no way the IG will be able to respond to each and every call made to him by scribes," said Wabwoba, who previously worked with Kenya News Agency (KNA) for many years.

"It will take a long time to get a response from Kimaiyo, for example if a petty crime incident happens in Bumula. It beats logic because the police boss will first have to be briefed by regional police chiefs over the incidences and it would be much easier if they commented themselves," added Wabwoba, who asked that the rule be reviewed.

IG Kimaiyo last week issued a circular prohibiting county and divisional police heads from issuing any information to journalists at the scene of a crime.

In the circular, he warned of unspecified disciplinary action against police bosses who will contravene the order. He explained that all county police bosses, together with divisional heads, will henceforth brief the media through the office of the police spokesperson.

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"It sends a very bad image of the National Police Service when senior officers are captured in the media differing over the approach of dispensing any operational matter. Let me assure you that I will not allow personality and ego issues to cast the Service in bad light.

"I will simply have the antagonizing officers moved from that particular station and allow others to take over their responsibilities, and the country will move on. We all have a common interest of ensuring that the Service integrates well for the benefit of the country," Kimaiyo was quoted in the media last week.

Media practitioners in the country at the grassroots have always been relying on local police bosses, Officers commanding police divisions (OCPDs) and Officers Commanding Stations (OCS), to get updates and comments on crime activities in the regions.

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