Journalists in Bungoma county have condemned in the strongest terms possible the verbal threats issued to their colleague.
In a joint press release on January 7,2020, Bungoma Press Club Chairman Nebert Wafula and his counterpart John Makuba alias Mentor Jay of Bungoma Journalists Association condemned the threats issues by the area governor Wycliffe Wangamati and termed it barbaric.
“We have received information on threats to a Nation Newspaper Journalist Brian Ojamaa with utmost dismay, on January 7 at around 8.45 am Bungoma governor via a cell phone number 0723961799 called Ojamaa based in Bungoma and issued a series of threats to him,” read the statement sent to newsrooms.
The bone of contention according to the county CEO was a story titled “Bank puts Wangamati land up for sale over loan“ appearing on the daily nation page 12.
In the phone conversation Wangamati threatened the journalist that he will destroy his career and further alleged that his boys who were not happy will harm him if he continue highlighting on such negative stories.
The press release further states that Ojamaa has since recorded a statement at Bungoma police station pending further investigations.
“We want to call upon the police to carry out a speedy investigation and put the matter to rest, as a leadership of journalists we want to first and foremost condemn the act by the governor in the strongest terms possible,” read the statement.
It continued, “We encourage, that news sources including political leadership should seek alternative but civilized means of raising complains in what they believe are stories that have injured their reputations,”.
Wafula and Makuba stated that the use of barbaric, unorthodox, outdated means of issuing of threats in this century are not only unacceptable but also an infringement to the freedom of the press.
They said that the press is out to highlight the development and ills in the community and hence it cannot take such threats lying down.
“He should apologize for the threats issued to one of us or else let him prepare for hard times a head, we can’t be silenced for doing our work,” they said.
This is not the first time Wangamati is falling out with area scribes, in 2017, he issued threats to the then Nation journalist Oti Oteba who was eventually sacked after he allegedly influenced it.
Wangamati’s administration has faced a frosty relationship with the media in what has been termed as trying to pull them into his side to get only positive stories.