Security officials at ODM headquarters yesterday assaulted two journalists at a function attended by party leader Raila Odinga.
Mr Moses Nyamori from The Standard and Mr Luke Awich from The Star, were roughed up at Chungwa House. The incident triggered uproar from media stakeholders, who demanded action against the attackers.
The security team under the command of ODM security official Bernard Kadundo confronted the two journalists and demanded that they get out.
The two identified themselves as journalists but the security team insisted they leave.
Two security officials then roughed them up before frog matching Mr Nyamori out of the premise. They tore his clothes in the ensuing melee.
Some party officials later intervened but the matter took an ugly turn when the security agents again confronted the journalists and broke Mr Awich’s phone.
One of them threatened to beat up the two journalists after the function, forcing Mr Nyamori to seek refuge in ODM chair John Mbadi’s car.
The party through its Secretary for Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi, later apologised, and promised to act.
“We apologise profusely as a party and we have to escalate the matter through our internal systems,” said Mr Wandayi.
The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) and the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) condemned the incident and demanded that the party punishes the attackers.
They also demanded that the police arrest the individuals behind the attack.
The council raised concerns over political party-orchestrated violence against journalists and lack of investigations by the authorities.
“The two journalists were singled out days after stories published under their bylines attracted verbal attacks and threats from specific party officials who had been quoted in the story,” added the council.
The council condemned the profiling of journalists by leaders and supporters of political parties as it goes against Articles 34 and 35 of the Constitution on freedom of media and access to information.
“The Media Council of Kenya calls on the ODM leadership led by its leader Raila Odinga who was hosting today’s event to disown such acts of violence against the media and commit to non-interference in the work of media workers in all its activities henceforth,” added MCK CEO David Omwoyo. Similar views were shared by KUJ which termed the incident as primitive and unacceptable.
“ODM today at Orange House unleashed terror on journalists, leaving one injured. The primitive acts should not be condoned in a civilised society, where journalists are required to serve the public for the common good of the country,” said KUJ secretary general Eric Oduor.
“We condemn the attacks, and we demand that the hooligans who believe that assaulting journalists is the only way to express their misguided frustrations, are identified and handed over to police by conveners of the news event,” he added.
The union demanded that the police investigate the incident. KUJ also asked politicians participating in the August 9 polls to guarantee safety of journalists during the electioneering period.
Kenya Parliamentary Journalists Association (KPJA) chair Duncan Khaemba also condemned the attack.
“It’s regrettable that the incident happened when party top brass and a presidential aspirant were present, where security ought to be top-notch,” said Mr Khaemba.