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Economy

Uhuru stopped from placing achievements ads on public website

Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. He is among those sued. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. He is among those sued. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

The government was Monday temporarily barred from publishing its advertisements on a public website.

High Court judge Enoch Chacha Mwita issued the order after a lobby last week took to court the Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua accusing of failing to respond to a request for information on advertisements associated with the Presidential Delivery Unit during the campaign period.

“Pending the hearing of this case, an order is hereby issued restraining the sued parties or their agents from, in any way, publishing any advertisements of achievements of the government either in the print or electronic media, or by way of banners or hoardings in public places,” the judge said.

Katiba Institute had sought information on achievements highlighted by the government in a website popularly known with a hashtag #Jubilee delivers or #GOKDelivers.

Katiba moved to court in protest of the failure to access information on the portal while seeking a temporary suspension regarding the posting of government’s achievements on that online site.

According to the lobby, they had sought the information with an aim of establishing the extent of violation of the electoral law during the campaign period.

Where the incumbent President is defending his or her seat, the law prohibits him or her from advertising development achievements as a way of campaigning within 30 days to an election. It imposed a Sh2 million fine and a six year jail term for offenders.

The ruling Jubilee Party has pushed for a change to the law that bars the government from publicising its achievements through the controversial Election Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

Through lawyers Suyianka Lempaa and Waikwa Wanyoike, Katiba had told court that it wanted information regarding all the government advertisements that were being aired in all local media stations days before the August 8 General Election.

The lobby further wanted to know how much public money was spent before the bungled polls were held on the advertisements and if it was necessary to air the adverts.

The lobby has also sued Mr Kinyua’s deputy Mr Nzioka Waita as well as Mr Andrew Wakahiu who is the secretary for delivery and head of the Unit.

The lobby has faulted the former treasury Principal Secretary of failing to direct Mr Waita and Mr Wakahiu to disclose that information.

Katiba has accused the said unit together with Mr Wakahiu of refusing to provide that information contrary to the laws on good governance, participation of the people, human rights, transparency and accountability.

PDU has carried out advertisements in media, billboards, bridges and overpasses with tags of the said hashtags in the recent past.

On August 17, Katiba wrote a letter to PDU and Mr Wakahiu using provisions of the law on freedom of information and expression as well as the access to information Act.

They sought to know the number of advertisements PDU has published, the medium used to air the adverts and the dates aired.

They also wanted to know the number of copies of all the adverts, the total costs incurred to advertise and the person or entity which authorized payments for the same.

Besides suspending the adverts, they now want the sued parties compelled to provide that information.

The case will be heard on November 8.

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