Mwaniki Munuhe (pictured), the journalist at the centre of the Ksh10 million bribery allegations has been suspended. Mr Munuhe has been asked to step aside for two weeks by the Standard Group to pave way for investigations into claims that he received Ksh10 million from former Devolution minister Anne Waiguru as inducement to provide her with positive coverage in the Standard newspapers and influence other media outlets.
Mr Munuhe, an editor on the Weekend editions, was thrown into the mix by businesswoman Josephine Kabura Irungu who claimed in an affidavit that Ms Waiguru, while cabinet secretary, asked her to deliver Ksh10 million to her Runda home which was later given to Munuhe and shared with Star colleague Maina Kamore for “propaganda and PR work”.
Both journalists have denied the accusations. Munuhe, for his part, has retained top lawyer Kennedy Ogeto to handle the case while Kamore is being shielded by his employer, the Star, which issued a statement distancing him from the bribery claims. Standard on Tuesday, through an editor’s note published within its coverage of the scandal, said it was investigating the matter and would take action based on the findings.
But on Thursday, Munuhe was given a “show cause” letter and his case handed over to Standard top security officer Sam Koskei, a former Nation Media Group hound with a solid reputation on investigations. It is understood that the probe will focus on Munuhe’s relations with Waiguru and communications between the two and her associates. A Standard insider says the editorial managers are also combing through past coverage of Ms Waiguru in Standard, with keen interest in reviewing articles used in the Sunday and Saturday Standard, where Munuhe works.
There’s already tension among Weekend senior editors with fears that the probe could implicate those who may have facilitated publication of the articles. His close buddies in the newsroom including Sunday Standard editor Enoch Wambua, Biketi Kikechi and Andrew Kipkemboi are targeted for questioning.
But of interest is the fact that the investigations will also zero-in on Munuhe’s lifestyle which, according to someone close to the investigations, changed drastically over the past few years. Mr Munuhe, who is also a businessman, is said to own a new black Mercedes Benz and recently acquired a white Landcruiser.
The probe will also look into allegations that businesses associated with him have been awarded lucrative contracts at the National Youth Service (NYS), which has been at the centre of the loss of Ksh800 million. The loss forced Ms Waiguru to resign and investigations are zeroing in on the individual players in the scandal.