By Our correspondent.
A Kisii Court has ordered Royal Media Services Limited to pay Principal, Kameji High School in Rongo Migori County, Alfred Omayio, Sh 5. 5 million in aggravated damages following a defamation suit against the media firm.
Omayio, in the suit filed in 27 May 2019 says his character was tarnished by the said ‘fabricated expose’ ran on Citizen TV and its platforms.
In contention was the story done by journalist Samuel Messo implicating the Principal in the dubious job scam where hundreds of jobless were said to had been fleeced of their money.
Principal Omayio had gone to court seeking the media house prohibited from further publishing and broadcasting the said documentary.
He also sought a mandatory injunction compelling the media house to pull down or withdraw the said documentary from its social media platforms.
He further sought the court to compel the media house to invoke an an apology which it failed and instead went ahead to broadcast against a plea from the complainant.
Omayio, in court submissions said the media documentary portrayed him as ‘dishonest, a fraud, lacking integrity, a criminal and untrustworthy, not befitting employment or hold office as school principal’
He says his reputation additionally suffered a dent following ridicule from the public who watched it.
Omayio says even after contacting the defendant with the plea not to run the story, the media house went ahead to broadcast it.
“The said news item did not provide any direct link to the alleged scam,” argued the teacher in court.
Omayio told the court of tormenting moments following numerous calls from various contacts , some of them cajoling him over the incident.
“As a result of the documentary I received calls from several places. It was traumatizing being branded a con,” said Omayio.
In defence, Citizen journalist Samuel Owino Messi, however defended the story as ‘ factual and that it was broadcast out of public concern, and that it was not meant to defame the plaintiff’.
He told Senior Resident Magistrate Stephen Onjoro that he only got whiff of the matter from a one James Kobil who claimed he had been to extorted Sh 80,000 from plaintiff as he sought employment.
He however paid Sh 30 000 through a proxy.
He also argued that they relied on some parcel sent via Ena Coach containing the purported letters from the Teachers Service Commission, being part of the scam.
The Magistrate, in lieu of the submissions however said the journalist failed to adduce tangible evidence before court linking Omayio to the said scam.
He slapped him with Sh 500,000 fine, Sh 1m in aggravated damages to the plaintiff.
The media house will pay an additional Sh 4 m to the Principal for airing the news item without undertaking due diligence.
“As a result of the broadcast there is evidence that the plaintiff was interdicted,” said the Court magistrate while giving a ruling .
The cost of the suit will be further be borne by the Royal Media Services Limited/Citizen TV.
Omayio was represented by Advocate Mathew Nyabena.
The media house has not appealed since the ruling was made.