We shall gladly defend our work on Afya House stories, NMG says

By NATION REPORTER
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Nation Media Group (NMG) Editor-in-Chief Tom Mshindi has said the company, if it has to, will defend its reporting on questionable spending at the ministry of Health amounting to Sh5.3 billion.

Mr Mshindi was responding to a statement read Wednesday by Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, who said news reports by the Business Daily and NTVhad unfairly depicted government officials as corrupt and inept.

Mr Mshindi said the company had taken note of Mr Mucheru’s statement.

“We do note that it is not signed and at this point we just take note of it. Since it is addressed to the Complaints Commission of the Media Council of Kenya, we shall wait for directions from the Media Council of Kenya and obey summons issued,” Mr Mshindi said.

“If it comes to us having to defend ourselves and the work that we have done, we shall be glad to do so,” he added.

Mr Mucheru said the government had lodged a formal complaint with the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) over NMG’s coverage of the loss of funds at Afya House.

“I make this official complaint to MCK in the hope that it will exercise its mandate to ensure justice is done and that the said media house is held accountable for what amounts to defamation and character assassination,” he said.

MINISTER’S TIMING

Mr Mucheru lodged the complaint in his ministry’s boardroom while sharing a table with Media Council chairman Charles Kerich and CEO Haron Mwangi, raising questions about the minister’s timing.

Mr Kerich said MCK had paid the minister a courtesy call following the swearing-in of the council’s Complaints Commission two days ago.

On October 26, the Business Daily carried a story about multibillion-shilling corruption that rocked Afya House through a series of fraudulent transactions.

LEAKED REPORT

NTV also covered the loss exposed in an internal audit report.

The government claims that the Business Daily and NTV reports were based on an interim audit whose accuracy had not yet been verified.

“The supposed leaked report does not in any way state that any money was lost or stolen. The report raises questions for various Ministry of Health workers to respond to,” Mr Mucheru said.

EACC PROBE

The government’s demand for an apology and a retraction comes a day after top Ministry of Health officials were questioned by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission over the allegations of fraud.

Civil society organisations also plan to take to the streets of Nairobi on Thursday to protest the loss.

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