Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
Information and Communication Cabinet secretary Joe Mucheru yesterday told a Senate committee that the shutdown of three private local TV stations early last month was done by the National Security Council (NSC).
Mucheru, who for the third time declined to give details of the events leading to the switch-off explained that the decision was taken by the NSC as it was a national security matter.
“Just to be clear, I am not hiding behind the cloak but following the due process of the law. At the moment, the matter is in court and I cannot discuss it in public,” he said. While appearing before the Senate committee on ICT chaired by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, Mucheru said that he did not at any point shut the TV stations as is being alleged.
He said: “I did not go to the stations to shut down the TV stations. The people who did this are the National Security Council. When the NSC invokes their actions, it is not me to respond to, it is about security of the country and the reasons they have.”
Accompanied by Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) director General Francis Wangusi, Mucheru also declined to give further details saying the matter was in court adding that Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i is the best person to respond to all the queries.
When probed further to give details, Mucheru told the senators that as a CS, he had sworn secrecy of office requiring him not to divulge details touching on national security to the media and the public. He said: “I will not answer who and why of the shutdown because I am not the one who did it. I am also not authorised to discuss security matters in the glare of cameras.”
Attempts by Senators Moi, Enock Wambua (Kitui), Samuel Poghisio (West Pokot), Malachy Imana (Turkana) and Abshiro Halakhe (nominated) to have Mucheru respond to the issues failed as he kept on referring to the National Security Council.
Following the move, Moi told the CS that he will be contacting him soon to inform him when he can appear again after discussing it with the Speaker Kenneth Lusaka following his reluctance to respond to question asked.