Mr Jaswant Singh Rai, the businessman alleged to be behind the sugar scandal, has threatened to sue Nation Media Group (NMG) if they do not meet a set of his demands after writing defamatory articles about him in print and online.
In a letter dated 2 July to NMG chief executive Stephen Gitagama, Tom Mshindi, and Edwin Okoth through his advocates, Oraro and Company Advocates, Mr Rai wants NMG to remove the defamatory articles from circulation and from all online platforms, publicly retract the headlines and articles as false and disparaging, publish an apology, and promise “not to repeat the allegations complained of.”
In addition, Mr Rai wants NMG to: “Admit liability for the damage caused to our client by the defamatory article and whereupon we shall engage you on the issue of compensation for the damage to our client’s reputation and for any loss it has and/or may have suffered.”
NMG is also expected to “publish in an equally prominent manner [Mr Rai’s] correction of the multiple factual inaccuracies contained in the said headlines and articles in an exercise of his Right to Reply under section 7A of the Defamation Act.”
The media house has seven days to comply with the demands of the affected businessman failure to which a suit will be filed against them.
The Disparaging Articles
The articles, one written on 22 June 2018 and the other on 1 July 2018, portray Mr Rai as the mastermind behind the sugar importation saga with connections in the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary.
According to the letter, the articles are “an effort to subvert the ongoing independent inquiry by the National Assembly into that scandal with a view to sealing all options but to sacrifice our client as the architect of the scandal through implication that any other finding is as a consequence of state capture by our client.”
The July 1 article claims that Mr Rai’s son Tajveer married the daughter of another sugar baron Mr Ragbirr Singh in a wedding attended by the Deputy President Wlliam Ruto and Majority leader Aden Duale. The article implied the marriage was part of an arrangement by the two families to control the sugar industry in the country by acquiring state-owned sugar factory Mumias.
To illustrate the deep-rooted influence of Mr Rai, the article further says that he is a close friend of Mr Muhoho Kenyatta and had ties with the Moi and Kibaki administrations. The article also accuses the businessman of extending his influence to Uganda and Tanzania.
“Mr Rai is Kenya’s version of the Guptas who completely captured South Africa’s political families, leading to the fall of Jacob Zuma in February this year,” the article explains.
Basically, the bold articles portray Mr Rai as a businessman capable of distributing toxic sugar to Kenyans, mercilessly eliminating the competitors that get on his way, doing whatever he can to manipulate the system in his favour, and pretending to be a whistleblower for crimes he himself has initiated.
The sugar scandal, which has hit the country by storm and resulted in high sugar prices, has seen several ‘big names’ implicated. Some MPs now want Treasury CS Henry Rotich sacked over the sugar saga.