Court lifts Media Council board recruitment freeze

"The interim orders of 16th February 2023 are vacated to allow the court to hear all parties on merit. Mention on March 20, 2023, before the duty judge," Justice Mbaru directed.

In the case, the court heard that the doctor had failed to tell the court that there were other cases on the recruitment exercise.

Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) secretary general Eric Oduor in his reply told the court that the cases amounted to forum shopping as the judges at Milimani High Court and Kajiado had declined to issue the orders.

"The three applications are strikingly similar, are based on the same set of facts and raise the same issues, and seek the same orders. That indeed, even the Parties are the same, save for the substitution of petitioners, which I verily believe has been done but to hoodwink the court," claimed Oduor.

He argued that in his petition, the doctor did not disclose to the court how he, alongside Churchill Otieno was not qualified to seek MCK's top seat.

In his case, Magayi claimed that representatives of the Media Owners Association, Kenya Editors Guild, Kenya Union of Journalists, Private Universities, and Public Universities in the selection panel were not recruited within the law.

However, Oduor in his reply stated that the claims were hot air adding that Magayi was taking the court in a fruitless venture.

"The petition and application are incompetent as they are an invitation upon the Court to pre-empt the decision of the selection panel and to usurp the powers and mandate that lie exclusively with the selection panel of determining who is qualified to hold office as Chair or member of the Media Council, an arena to which this Honourable Court does not have the jurisdiction to descend," he continued.

Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo on January 26, unveiled a 13-member panel to select the new MCK board members.

The panel comprised of among others Macharia Gaitho (Kenya Editors Guild), Oscar Obonyo (Kenya Union of Journalists), William Oloo Janak (Kenya Correspondents Association and Marlene Achieng Abongo (Law Society of Kenya).

Following the unveiling of the team, several cases were filed challenging the composition of the panel.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Justin Muturi also moved to block journalists currently working in media houses from sitting on the MCK Board. He claimed a conflict of interest.

"That having an interest in a media house for whatever reason which might cause a potential conflict of interest situation in the functioning of the Media Council precludes a person from being the Chairperson or Member of the Council," the AG wrote in a letter.

In court, Magayi is said to have taken issues with the shortlisting of Roselyn Oballa, Oduor, and Otieno.

However, Oduor asserted that the Media Council Act clearly states who is eligible to apply for the positions adding that those who were shortlisted had the required qualifications to be in office.

"It is notable that out of the 7 and 41 applicants shortlisted for Chairperson and Member of the Council respectively, the petitioner has taken issue only with the shortlisting of myself, Roselyn Oballa, and Churchill Otieno," he replied.