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Arrest or no arrest? Confusion galore in Governor Mwangaza drama

     On October 18, confusion prevailed among media outlets nationwide as they covered the alleged arrest of Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza. She was reportedly in Ruiga, Imenti Central, to donate a cow.

First, it’s crucial to state that Governor Mwangaza asserts that the One Cow One Needy Family Programme was formulated by the Meru County Assembly, a claim that MCAs vehemently deny.

Meru Senator Kathuri Murungi expressed his views on this matter on his Facebook. “You arrest yourself assisted by your staff and detain the Police Landcruiser, then hold security personnel to ransom. Why all this?” he said.

Governor Kawira Mwangaza with her aides assisting her to board a police vehicle

The Okolea programme, initiated by the governor, involved a county-wide tour during which bedding, cows, gumboots, and other items were donated. In one of the events in Laare chaos erupted where residents slaughtered a cow that was to be donated, leading to Interior CS Kithure Kindiki imposing a ban on such gatherings until security personnel could ensure safety.

On October 18, during a similar event, a notable incident transpired. Police officers equipped with anti-riot gear arrived while the event was in progress, and various media stations provided diverse accounts of the situation after the governor was spotted on a police vehicle.

Here’s how different media outlets covered the incident:

  1. Weru TV

A media station based in Meru county on their Facebook page first reported that the governor had been arrested before deleting the post and picking a different angle.

  1. Standard Digital

3 Baite TV: A stationed owned by the governor

4. KTN News

5 NTV Kenya

The reporting on the alleged arrest of Mwangaza resulted in more questions than answers. Ironically, Governor Mwangaza, having initially demanded an apology from OCS Kariene Moses Mutinda, eventually stepped out of the police vehicle after a while, with the police officers urging her to do so.

This situation brings up another question regarding whether the media outlets overlooked the discussion surrounding OCS Kariene’s apology. In this debate, one side contends that the OCS apologised for storming a meeting organised by the county government, while other reports claim the apology was over the arrest of the governor.

The confusion doesn’t end here. The National Police Service issued a statement refuting the arrest of Governor Mwangaza. The Council of Governors, represented by Ahmed Abudallahi, the vice chairperson, called on the Inspector General of Police to apologise publicly for the “embarrassment, inconvenience, public humiliation, and ridicule.”

Amid this ongoing confusion, many unanswered questions persist. Who summoned the anti-riot police to a seemingly peaceful gathering? Was Mwangaza arrested, or did she board the police vehicle for political gain? Are the numerous statements from different leaders necessary without the provision of accurate, verified reports on what transpired? What is the role of media in news gathering if it cannot help in filling such gaps?

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