Controversial blogger and self-made corporate activist Cyprian Nyakundi has been ordered to pay Ksh.300,000 fine or face four months in jail for contempt of court. The blogger is accused of disobeying court orders restraining him from defaming Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore on social media in a case filed by the corporate chief.
Justice Lucy Mwihaki slapped the fine against Nyakundi after she found him guilty of deliberately defying orders stopping him from publishing negative comments about the Safaricom CEO as well as failing to appear in court for mitigation before sentencing is passed.
The blogger was in late November found to be in contempt by Lady Justice Njuguna for continuously discussing matters before court in contravention of laid down rules and procedures. Justice Njuguna ordered Nyakundi to appear before her on January 19th 2017 for sentencing but he never did.
The blogger, according to the judge, gave no justifiable reasons for skipping court on three occasions. Last December, Justice Mwihaki found the blogger guilty of contempt of court by demonstrating he had no respect for court orders and held that it could not condone flagrant abuse of its authority and dignity.
She dismissed Nyakundi’s plea for leniency and a non-custodial sentence on grounds that he was remorseful.
Nyakundi was sued by Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore for defamation on 17th June 2016, where the telecommunication firm’s boss sought to stop the blogger from “publishing or causing to be published either by his agents, servants in any of his blogs or media platform any statements defamatory or otherwise concerning the plaintiff.”
Three weeks later, Mr Collymore was back in court claiming that Nyakundi has disobeyed the orders and sought that Nyakundi be committed to civil jail for the time the court would determine and/or attach his property.
Lawyer Nani Mungai, representing Collymore, had applied for his arrest arguing that the blogger was not sorry for his actions following continued defamation on his personal blog. Mr Collymore had asked the court to commit Nyakundi to civil jail for six months for disobeying an order issued last July prohibiting him from publishing defamatory articles concerning corruption in the media industry in Kenya.
Days after the directive was issued, Nyakundi is said to have published the offending story and refused to apologise and withdraw it. In his defense, Nyakundi claimed he did not maliciously bring into disrepute the reputation or credibility of the Safaricom CEO.
“The integrity of the judicial process is likely to be undermined since the respondent has repeatedly posted tweets on his personal platform in total disregard of court sanctions,” she ruled. (Additional reporting from Capital FM)