Jackson Njeru was jailed for three months on Tuesday for contempt of court by a Nairobi Magistrate. Njeru was jailed alongside Jackline Ogutu aka Nyako Ber, both being Facebook administrators of the group Buyer Beware.
Their crime was that being group administrators, they did not bring down a post from a member of the group that mentioned prominent lawyer Cecil Miller, who has sued them for defamation. The lawyer had earlier gotten injunction against the two for mentioning his name anywhere online pending the determination of the cases he has against them.
Miller had sued Jackson Njeru and Jackline Ogutu first using the Section 29 of the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Act 2013, for misusing a licensed telecommunications equipment (Facebook) but when the section was declared unconstitutional he switched to Section 184 of the Penal Code which criminalizes defamation.
In his prayers to the courts in Nairobi, he had gotten injunction against publishing his name in the group stating that the mentions had adversely affected his business.
What started as a private feud between Ms. Ogutu and Miller has over time embroiled Mr. Njeru.
In the ruling by the magistrate courts, the two were given an option of paying a fine of sh500,000. Ms. Ogutu was able to pay yesterday and released but Mr. Njeru has yet to secure his freedom.
Prior to this jail time, Ms. Ogutu had been convicted and jailed in lang’ata women prison in March this year but well wishes raised money to secure her release.
Their crime is what in law is described as crime of omission. While they did not individually commit the crime, being group administrators, they did not delete it, powers which they have, considering the injunction against publishing the lawyer’s name.
Efforts are being made to appeal the three months sentence and sh500,000 for Mr. Njeru at the High Court’s civil division.