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Two arrested for spreading fake news on Matiang’i’s Covid-19 status

Detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on Saturday arrested two brothers for allegedly sharing false information about Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i’s health.

The two, Emmanuel Kimutai Kosgei, 31, and Kibet Yego, 19, were picked from their home in Ngeria area in Uasin Gishu County.

FAKE NEWS

In a police statement, Kosgei and Yego are accused of spreading fake news on Facebook claiming that CS Matiang’i was admitted to the hospital after contracting Covid-19.

Police said the two siblings are being interrogated in Eldoret and are expected to be arraigned next week.

DCI confiscated a laptop and mobile phone linked to publication of the social media post from the suspects.

Their arrest comes a day after Matiang’i filed a complaint with the DCI over the false reports that he says have affected his family.

The CS blamed individuals he described as “mentally deranged” for being part of a scheme to humiliate him and his family so that he loses focus on the assignment given to him by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In an interview with the Nation at his Harambee House office in Nairobi, Matiang’i said the rumour has caused a lot of distress to him and his family. He said he had to switch off his phone Thursday evening when the misinformation started circulating on social media.

HEAVY PRICE

“I feel for my family. My wife and children who have their own lives to live but they have to endure this kind of rumour. They are private citizens who have to pay a heavy price because one of their member is in public service,” Matiang’i said.

On Thursday evening, rumours circulated on social media that the CS, who chairs the National Emergency Response committee on Covid-19, had been taken ill and was fighting for his life in Intensive Care Unit.

“If I become sick with Covid-19, I will be the first to go public about it, because there is nothing to hide. I have been tested three times because our level of exposure is high,” he said.

The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act states that “a person who intentionally publishes false, misleading or fictitious data or misinforms with the intent that the data shall be considered or acted upon as authentic, with or without any financial gain, commits an offense and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding five million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both.”

Meanwhile, Kenyans on social media have reacted to news of the arrest of the two suspects.

Many social media users questioned how fast the two were brought to book yet so many cases are still pending as investigations are still ongoing for years.

The two were arrested after Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i on Friday directed the DCI and the Inspector General of Police to launch investigations.

ONLINE REACTION

Netizen further argued that by Matiang’i, being a public servant, he should not take criticism personally.

“When it comes to the poor man’s children, you are very first in reacting while there are alot of pending cases e.g. Msando, Kenei, Jacob Juma which you have failed to bring the culprits to book, why?,” @PoliticalGeni15 commented,

“But people here have been doing this always, or when it’s politically working against enemies of the system it is okay, but when it touches the people within the system it is a crime,” @juskems posted.

“This man Matiang’i thinks he’s very special being, many people in limelight are being killed everyday na wametulia. President Uhuru is the most trolled Kenyan and he hasn’t reacted to this magnitude and he is CIC. Matiang’i is with his family, why should his family worry? Unless!” @KipchumbaMnyol1 wrote.

“CS Matiang’i has called on DCI to investigate his ICU admission claims. In other words, people might be arrested. But what is easier? Appearing & telling people you are okay or fighting to show you are? Matiangi is a public servant & I think the public has a right to worry,” said @jumaf3.

“I can remember Uhuru Kenyatta advising Maraga to develop thick skin if he want to survive in public service, Matiang’i should do the same,” wrote @AmbajoJack.

“There are important things uncle Matiang’i should focus on. The boys were wrong but dispatching DCI to Eldoret to arrest them was completely unnecessary. It’s just the other day he refused to honour court orders on Miguna. In politics, you encounter such lazy gossip. Let them go,” @o_abuga commented.