By BONIFACE ONGERI
Wajir, Kenya: Wajir police are investigating an incident in which a county official allegedly stormed a local radio station, switched off broadcast and harassed a presenter and a watchman. The county officer, Yahya Dahiye, reportedly entered Wajir Community Radio Station and demanded a transcript of a programme that had just been aired, according to a report made to the police.
Halima Kahiye, the station’s managing director and her deputy Ahmed Sheikh said Mr Dahiye accompanied by two administration police officers, harassed the presenter and watchman. Ms Kahiye said the county official briefly confiscated the mobile phones of the presenter, Qeys Hajji and the watchman one Mr Abdi.
She said that Dahiye later left with what is believed to be recordings allegedly critical of Wajir County Governor Ahmed Abdullahi’s leadership style. Kahiye said the storming was an attack on the freedom of the media and they are still trying to establish what the county official took from the station after ransacking the editing studio.
However, Dahiye denied the claims. “I went to the station accompanied by an officer from the information office and a former employee of the station. I was seeking the recordings of the programme so that we can launch an official complaint with the sponsors over unethical issues in the programme,” he said.
The programme in question ‘Governance and Devolution’ was sponsored by WASDA, a local non-governmental organisation. Yahya said he was not accompanied by armed security officers and did not switch off the station as alleged. “We were at the station and called the managing director and her deputy but they did not come to the station,” he said. He alleged that the station has been airing programmes that do not follow ethics and law governing journalists. But Kahiye said that the county official should have followed the right procedure to get the information they wanted.
Kahiye claimed the county government has been seeking to take over the running of the station against the radio management and community’s wishes.
She said journalists at the station work under pressure from county government mandarins who threaten journalist over reports.