Omtatah barred from serving CA with court order to end TV shutdown


Activist Okiya Omtatah outside the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) on February 2, 2018. He says he has been barred from serving CA with a court order directing that it restore television broadcast in TV stations switched off January 30, 2018. PHOTO | AGEWA MAGUT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Activist Okiya Omtatah was on Friday prevented from serving the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) with a court order directing that the firm restores broadcast of three television stations.

He had sent his Court Process Server, who was barred from serving the documents, he said.

"At around 8am today, two men, who introduced themselves as police officers posted at the Communications Authority of Kenya, abducted my Court Process Server at the headquarters of the authority, and detained him until 10am. Upon release, he contacted me and I decided to come and effect service in person.

"A man in a black suit, who claims to be a police officer, has blocked my access to the CA at the gate. He claims he has instructions from above not to allow me or anybody to serve the court order suspending the media shutdown. I am staying put until I serve these orders," he said in a message to the press.

Mr Omtatah vowed he would not leave CA premises until he served the order.

He served the Attorney-General, and the ICT and Interior ministries with the court order in the morning, he told the Nation.

Okiya 2

Activist Okiya Omtatah on February 2, 2018 outside the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) premises. He demonstrates where he would paste a court order directing CA to restore television broadcast. PHOTO | AGEWA MAGUT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Switched off

The television stations were still off by noon on Friday, despite the Thursday court order to restore broadcast.

On Tuesday, CA switched off broadcast from NTV, Citizen TV and KTN News for live airing of the Nasa ‘swearing-in’.

Media houses had earlier been warned against live broadcast of the oath ceremony, according to the Editors' Guild.

Mr Omtatah sued, and on Thursday the High Court ordered that CA restore broadcast.

The US Department of State and the European Union have also condemned the television shutdown.

Press freedom

In separate statements posted on their websites on Thursday, they said the government should respect the freedom of expression.

The EU said that respecting the law “means the respect of freedoms of assembly, media and speech and implies lifting any ban on media operating within the law.”

The US Department of State also criticised the government’s shutdown of three television stations and its move to “intimidate and restrict the media.”

“Freedom of expression, including for members of the media, is essential to democracy and is enshrined in Kenya’s Constitution. We urge the government and all Kenyans to respect freedom of expression and implement court orders calling for the restoration of television broadcasts,” it said.