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Court drops case against blogger Robert Alai over offensive post

The trial of a Nairobi blogger over an alleged offensive post on Twitter has been dropped.

Mr Robert Alai walked to freedom on Thursday at the Milimani law courts after the prosecution said it had dropped the charge, but under section 87 (a) of the penal code which allows future re-arrest and prosecution.

Mr Alai’s post had targeted Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) chief executive Halake Waqo. Mr Alai denied the charge and had been out on a cash bail of Sh30,000.

The blogger’s lawyer Mr Edward Oonge told a magistrate that the high court had since declared a section of the Communication Act, on which the charge was based, as unconstitutional thus annulling the charge against Mr Alai.

High court Judge Mumbi Ngugi recently declared Section 29(b) illegal.

The section reads: A person who by means of a licenced telecommunication system sends a message that he knows to be false for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another person commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to both.

The Act has been used to arrest and charge 15 other bloggers in the country between January and March.

Judge Mumbi declared the law unconstitutional as it does not meet the criteria set in Article 24 of the constitution which provides instances when rights can be limited.

The prosecution said the offence was committed on November 18, 2015.

Mr Alai is alleged to have used the Twitter account RobertALAI@RobertAlai to post the message.

The prosecution alleged that Mr Alai knew that the statement was “false” and was intended to annoy Mr Waqo.