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Jubilee ‘keyboard warriors’ go for each others’ jugular



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The infighting in the Jubilee Party that has stoked animosity between politicians allied President Uhuru Kenyatta and those supporting his deputy William Ruto is now spilling over to its supporters, with bloggers turning against each other.

The rivalry between the online foot soldiers mostly in Mt Kenya region started soon after the President closed ranks with Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga in March 2018, creating camps within the ruling party’s digital team.

The embattled Innovation, Digital and Diaspora Communication director in the Office of the President, Mr Dennis Itumbi, leads Mr Ruto’s social media brigade.

Mr Itumbi is a staunch defender of the Deputy President and politicians allied to him under the banner Tangatanga, who never hide their distrust for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), the outcome of the Uhuru-Raila ‘handshake’ pact.

In the President’s camp, the bloggers include Pauline Njoroge, Polycarp Hinga, Fuata Nyuki, and Martha Miano, who never tire of drumming up support for the ‘handshake’ and criticising Mr Ruto.


Some also accompany members of the anti-Ruto Kieleweke political faction to weekend functions where they provide ‘social media coverage’ to the politicians as they unleash attacks on DP Ruto.

The two groups as well as the MPs also usually engage in online spats emanating from Mr Ruto’s political ambitions, the BBI and claims that President Kenyatta has failed his Mt Kenya backyard.

The warfare between the bloggers is so serious that Mr Itumbi has threatened to sue his two colleagues, Martha Miano and Polycarp Hinga.

According to a letter sent to the two bloggers by Mr Itumbi’s lawyer, Waithera Kinuthia, the controversial ex-journalist is demanding damages and an apology for defamation.

The letter dated November 21 alleges that the two shared a message through Facebook which was offending and libellous against Mr Itumbi.

“The text message contained the following defamatory words about our client: Desperation in Ruto’s camp? Guys, share the blog by Pulse and Tuko widely. Let’s sell that narrative to Kenyans that Uhuru is not understanding why they are broke!” reads the letter drawn by Waithera Kinuthia Advocates.

While insisting that the two have a wide following and national circulation, the lawyer said it was likely the message was re-published by many people.

Further, the lawyer states that the said publication has stirred considerable public discourse.

“We have since served them (with the demand letter) through WhatsApp (a social media application) and we will file a court case against them for defamation and malicious falsehood within five days if they do not meet the demands.

“Serving through WhatsApp is allowed even abroad,” lawyer Waithera told Sunday Nation while lifting the lid on the murky war of friends-turned-foes in Jubilee’s stormy political waters.

When contacted, Mr Hinga declined to comment on the matter but admitted being served with the demand letter via the social media site.

“I will respond once served through the appropriate channels. I do not consider myself served. I am also consulting my lawyer,” he said.

His colleague Ms Miano, alias Martha JM Miano, could not be reached for comment as she failed to respond to phone calls and text messages.

Ms Kinuthia said the message was false and malicious and intended to undermine Mr Itumbi’s reputation in his personal capacity and as a public servant.

“The words were intended to mean and were understood to mean that our client is a political saboteur targeting the President; a propagandist member of a war council; a political liability, disloyal and incompetent; a trouble-maker and a rabble-rouser,” stated the lawyer.

The lawyer said Mr Itumbi has suffered distress, embarrassment and loss of reputation.

To defend her client from claims of being a litigious person, the lawyer said the case seeks to separate progressive objective criticism from outright falsehood “manufactured in the dark alleys of social media accounts that spew falsity and fake news like a programmed puppetry show”.

Of Mr Hinga, the lawyer said he had since deleted the post. “This goes to prove two things: the first one is that you knew that the said message which you shared was disparaging about our client and in deed false, malicious and defamatory.

[The] second is that you shared the alleged text purportedly written by our client out of extreme unfounded malice and spite which was calculated to injure him,” says the lawyer.

Mr Itumbi wants the two bloggers to admit liability for false and malicious publication of an offending statement and an apology published in the same social media accounts.

This is not the first time that Ms Miano is in legal trouble over allegations of posting defamatory and abusive messages on social media.

In March 2016, she was charged with four counts of posting annoying messages on Facebook.

She was accused of posting on Facebook a message alleging that Mr Rigathi Gachagua, now Mathira MP, had forcefully taken over a local water community project by using hired goons and a local member of the county assembly (MCA).

She allegedly committed the offence on December 29, 2015.

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