The ruling by Judge Mbogholi Msagha, sitting in Nairobi High Court delivered the landmark ruling that will definitely send chills down the spines of Kenyans who use Social media and engage in fights with others.
A Kenyan blogger was directed to pay a whopping Sh5 Million to a Member of Parliament over defamatory statements he made on social media.
Peter Ekisa was taken to court by Teso North MP Arthur Odera in 2014 after he circulated messages stating that he (Odera) had been misusing Uwezo Fund resources.
Mr Odera sued the blogger arguing that Mr Ekisa had used a global platform to circulate falsehoods which had greatly injured his reputation as a leader.
According to the court papers, Ekisa was asked to delete and retract the statements but he declined to do so.
“The record shows that the defendant was served with summons to enter appearance but failed to do so or file any defence. The plaintiff is the Member of Parliament for Teso North and as such is a public figure with a wide following,” the judge stated.
“There is no doubt that the platform chosen by the plaintiff was intended to and did achieve the desire to be accessed by as many people as possible. Indeed, the number of people who contributed to the exchanges is overwhelming to say the least. The damage of character sustained by the plaintiff must have been enormous,” the judge ruled.
The court ruled that Ekisa should pay the Teso North MP Sh2 Million in general damages, Sh1.5 Million exemplary damages and Sh1.5 Million for aggravated damages.
The two have been in constant dispute and in 2015, Ekisa also posted on Facebook alleging that Odera had hired goons to attack him.
“I was attacked by Arthur Odera’s militia at Keng’atuny last Friday the 10th July 2015. Before that, Okalebo and Odongo were assaulted by the MP himself flanked by his gang at the same venue. There are several other incidences of physical attacks by Odera and his gang against myself and other members of the public before that fateful Friday,” Odera wrote in one of his posts.
Kenyans quickly took to Facebook to comment of the landmark judgment, with renowned lawyer Donald Kipkorir thanking Judge Msagha for the decision , noting that ruling will bring sanity online.
“Dear Kenyans on Facebook … Know that abusing on Facebook will now cost you KES 5 million. Justice Mbogholo-Msagha of the High Court has held So, before sending abuses, reflect on the cost. We can have rational debate without abuses. Thank you Mbogholi,” posted Kipkorir on his official Facebook page.
The just concluded case may set a precedent for bloggers caught publishing irresponsible statements, sending a warning on the huge amounts of money they would have to part with.