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On billionaire Rai’s ‘abduction’, Nation peddled insinuations and innuendo

Sample these recent news threads at the end of August:

First, billionaire Jaswant Rai, a sugar tycoon, is kidnapped in Nairobi and released after two days.

Second, President Ruto sparks outrage by saying that cartel members frustrating reforms in the sugar sector should prepare for jail, deportation, or a trip to heaven.

Then, the Daily Nation dropped a bombshell September 1: “How Ruto cornered sugar baron in pitched battle to control struggling miller”.

How can you steer such a story from insinuations and innuendo? You can’t.

Take a look.

The story by Allan Olingo and Brian Ambani started out by narrating events at an August 22 meeting at Kilimo House, Nairobi.

 The story said that the meeting called by Agriculture and Food Authority to particularly discuss the closure of sugar factories was attended by, among others, Rai.

Kenya has 16 sugar factories; Rai owns four of them, the story said.

Besides the closure of sugar factories, other agenda on the table included alleged government favoritism in licensing millers.

The elephant in the room, apparently, has been numerous court cases, notably by Rai’s empire, frustrating reforms, particularly at the former giant, Mumias Sugar.

At the meeting, Rai reportedly focused on what should be done to save the sugar sector.

Three days after the meeting that the Nation described as stormy, Rai was abducted. The incident is said to have left the tycoon shaken. The man has reportedly not said a word about the entire ordeal.

After his release, the Nation said, Rai instructed his lawyers to withdraw all court cases that had halted changes at Mumias Sugar. Further, he prevailed on other litigants to drop their cases, too, and committed to pay some Sh50 million in fees incurred by the litigants.

At this point, the story noted that President Ruto had a week earlier ordered parties to withdraw all such court cases.

Back to the story headline: How Ruto cornered sugar baron. What exactly was the Nation saying here?

Who was the sugar baron? Evidently, Rai. How exactly did Ruto corner him? Did the state kidnap Rai? Did the state order him into silence? Did the President threaten him to drop court cases?

If not, how, we ask again, did Ruto corner a baron?

Journalism abhors insinuations and innuendos. The Nation indulged in both.

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