Apostle Nganga of Neno Evangelism whose acquittal caused hue and cry wrote has written to Nation Media Group over a story that disperaged him.
Through his lawyers, Nyakundi and Company Advocates, Apostole Nganga has given NMG 48 hours to publish an apology and step forward to discuss compensation for defaming him.
The letter thus reads:-We are under instructions from our above named client as we now write to you as follows:-
Our client is a church minister under the banner of Neno Evangelism Centre with its office situate in Nairobi.
In the evening of 26th July 2015 there was a road traffic accident along the Naivasha-Nairobi highway at a place called Manguo involving M/V Reg No. KCD 060 Q, Range Rover and KBZ 709W where a person by the name Mercy Njeri suffered fatal injuries.
The police immediately went into action and in their investigations, they identified one Simon Maina Kuria as the driver of M/V Reg No. KCD 060 Q. M/V Reg No. KBZ 709W was at the material time being driven by the deceased Mercy Njeri. However, her husband Martin Mbugua Ndungu would falsely claim that he was the driver of the motor vehicle and not his wife Mercy. As it was to emerge, the deceased drove the motor vehicle without being in possession of a valid driving licence or at all. Statements were recorded from a number of witnesses and a decision made to charge Simon Maina Kuria pertaining to the accident and as the driver of the Range Rover.
Following a sustained and malicious campaign by The Nation, pressure was brought to bear upon the prosecuting authories. Investigations were taken over by a new police team led by the Commandant Traffic Police Mr. C. Murithi. Consequently, the charges were withdrawn against Simon Maina Kuria and fresh charges preferred against him as well as our client together with two other persons in criminal case No. 730 of 2015 which was concluded on 4th May 2018 with the acquittal of the accused of all the charges.
It is important to note that there is incontrovertible evidence that the Range Rover was the property of Valley Road Motors Ltd, a famous car mart nterprise. The motor vehicle had been offered for sale and presently Simon Maina Kuria showed interest in the same. An agreement was reached between him and the car sales company that he would test drive the same before making a decision as to whether or not he would purchase the same. The police recorded statements from John Nduati and Francis Nganga of Valley Road Motors on this aspect. A gate pass No. 0904 dated 24th July 2015 was issued in favour of Simon Kuria. The two witnesses and the gate pass were not presented to the court.
There was also evidence that there was a function to inaugurate Sunny Hill Hotel Naivasha. This function was organized by Apostle James Maina Nganga who had extended invitations to a number of people among whom was Simon Maina Kuria. There was also evidence that Simon Maina Kuria left the Hotel after the function for Nairobi at the wheel of M/V Reg No. KCD 060 Q in the company of one Christopher Nzilu Nzioka. Indeed, in the police investigations diary, two persons saw not only Simon Maina Kuria leave Naivasha in the manner aforesaid but that Apostle James Maina Nganga had left earlier at the wheel of a Mercedes Benz KBY 093B. There was also evidence that after some interval, Apostle James Maina Nganga was seen driving into and exiting Nakumatt Galeria in the same car, a fact that was captured by the establishment CCTV. Again, for reasons which only the prosecution would explain, neither the witnesses captured in Naivasha nor the CCTV footage at Galeria were presented to court. Not even an ex GSU officer at Galeria whose evidence in our view would have been crucial.
There were a myriad of other instances in the entire trial which the court was bound to consider as a prelude to its verdict. These included the veracity of the evidence of those that claimed as having witnessed the accident. Suffice that all these instances were appropriately tested and the court was perfectly positioned to assess such evidence and make its findings as indeed it did. You may perhaps note that one of the witnesses had this to say:-
“It is difficult to state who among the two principal suspects who may have been driving the car in question is telling the truth and both have strong alibis. It is only a court of law that can elicit the truth and put the matter to rest” (sic)
Putting aside for the moment that the function of the court cannot be as stated by the witness, the fact that the investigators were on record as having been unable to ascertain the driver of the Range Rover was most certainly a relevant consideration by any tribunal seized of the matter. There should never have been any difficulty at all. There was sufficient material upon which no reasonable tribunal could hold that Apostle James Maina Nganga owned motor vehicle Registration number KCD 060Q let alone being its driver at all time material in the matter before the court.
From the foregoing, our client neither owned nor drove the motor vehicle at the time in question. It is also not in question that The Nation had its representative in court throughout the trial.
In a screaming page one headline of 8th May 2018 “How Crash Pastor walked scot free” You maliciously published false allegations against our client including:-
1. That our client was the owner of M/V Reg No. KCD 060Q.
2. That our client was the driver of M/V Reg No. KCD 060Q on 26th July 2015 and drove the said motor vehicle so negligently and recklessly that it collided with M/V Reg No. KBZ 709W resulting in the death of Mercy Njeri.
3. That our client was represented by Lawyer Cliff Ombeta who pulled out of the case for safety reasons and insinuated that our client may have been privy to an assault against a person you informed your readers to be his own lawyer.
4. That our client was a fugitive from justice.
5. That our client was engaged in conspiracy to defeat justice.
6. That in the fact that the Chief Magistrate “stunned the small crowd” at Limuru Law Courts, it was expected that our client would be convicted for after all he was so guilty that a trial may have been unnecessary.
7. That our client had incited who you call his supporters to attack the state prosecutor which as you claim they did. Our client is therefore a thug, a conspirator, and does not respect lawful institutions.
In your issue of 9th May 2018, you again published malicious and false material against our client which was grossly defamatory to him. At a prominent position in the front page and under the picture of our client, you published:-
“I turned down crash pastor’s blood money”. At page 9 thereof and in a bold headline “DPP to appeal the acquittal of crash pastor” you again claimed that the material Range Rover belonged to our client. You gave the story an obviously biased slant against our client despite the fact that even in the story there was material upon which you ought to have presented an objective account. Quoting the cabinet secretary Interior, Fred Matiangi, you claimed that:- “a brazen crime was committed by the accused person” You compounded the substantially false narrative by claiming that some individual had flatly refused to accept what you termed as blood money from our client. Not only had our client not offered such money or at all but you failed to observe a very basic tenet to accord our client an opportunity to react to such obviously damaging information prior to its publication.
You were not done yet. In an Editorial headline “Get to the bungled pastor case” you claimed that our client was privy to the capture of the Judiciary, police and investigative agencies by corruption. “It is unbelievable” you said, “that the investigators could conduct such a shoddy inquiry and present unconvincing evidence to a court that looked all too unquestioning on an otherwise straight forward case.
Right from the time of the accident, when his (emphasis) car ran over and killed a woman in Limuru, it was evident that pastor Nganga was going to escape easily. Police officers investigating the case were quick to falsify evidence and even misled Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet. And the kind of protection the pastor was accorded pointed to a man with connections in the upper echelons of the security system.
The whole circus played out during the trial and, with what looked like an acquiescent court, the matter was inevitably thrown out and the preacher left to go scot-free for lack of evidence. Curiously, the presiding magistrate was also transferred and, although that is purely administrative, the coincidence is unmistakable”
The above statement constitutes a rich repository of innuendo and invective against our client inter alia. That you would publish such at all and without any regard to our client’s account of the story according him an opportunity to respond was a grave abuse of your privileged position as a leading newspaper and our client’s right to fairness and by a copy of this letter, we will be agitating on behalf of our client to the Media Council of Kenya.
Prior to, during and after the said accident on 26th July 2015, you have consistently authored and published false and defamatory information against Apostle James Maina Nganga. As a result thereof, our client has suffered public scandal, ridicule, disparagement and odium. His standing has been injured among right thinking members of society whereof our client has suffered loss and damage.
The purpose of this letter is to demand which we hereby do your written admission of liability for libel in the premises aforesaid. You must also publish an apology in the manner, font and language as approved by us.
Thereafter, we will engage in negotiations as to the quantum of damages payable to our client as a means of amicably resolving this matter without recourse to court.
TAKE NOTICE that unless we suitably hear from you within the next fourty eight (48) hours effective from 9 o’clock 10th May 2018, we shall commence civil proceedings in a court of law
for recompense without any or further reference to you whatsoever.