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Firing off an abusive or indecent tweet, WhatsApp or Facebook message could earn you 10 years in jail or a Sh10 million fine.

| AFP

That angry tweet could cost you Sh20m or land you in jail

 You should now think twice before firing off that abusive or indecent tweet, WhatsApp or Facebook message, as it could earn you 10 years in jail or a Sh10 million fine.

This is after yesterday’s comeback of the Computer Cyber Crime Act, which prohibits harassment of a person through grossly offensive posts on the internet.

The law became enforceable after the restoration by the Court of Appeal of 21 out of 24 laws that had been annulled by the High Court on the argument that they had been passed by the National Assembly without the input of the Senate.

The law comes into force as the election period – during which people tend to publish false and damaging claims about their opponents – kicks in.

The Bill was passed by the National Assembly in 2018 but was among the 23 laws that were nullified by the High Court in October 2020.

Dragging legislative matters

"A person who intentionally publishes false, misleading or fictitious data or misinforms with intent that the data shall be considered or acted upon as authentic, with or without any financial gain, commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding 20 million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding10 years," reads Clause 12 of the new law.

Following the ruling, Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi yesterday called on the Senate to embrace dialogue and avoid dragging legislative matters into the courts.

“When we drag each other to the courts, it is the people of Kenya who lose, yet they are the very reason that the two Houses were established. When the legislative processes of either House stop, it only means that Parliament cannot use or exercise its legislative power to respond to the issues of concern to the people,” Mr Muturi said.

“I call on both Houses to work together and collectively serve our people, remembering that, in the end, whenever there is a court dispute between Houses, it shall never be a question of which House won, but rather how did Wanjiku lose?'' he said.

Former majority leader Aden Duale, who signed most of the Bills that the Senate rejected, said the court had vindicated him on the role of the National Assembly.

“I’m happy and feel vindicated by the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the matter that made the Senate challenge more than 23 government-sponsored statutes during my tenure as the leader of majority.” Mr Duale said.

“The 2010 Constitution was very explicit on the roles of the two. This judgement is very clear and has placed the Senate where it belongs as far as its role is concerned. Never again will they encroach on the mandate of the National Assembly,” Mr Duale added.

Following the ruling, Mr Muturi directed that the House should resume consideration of the Bills that were at various stages.

“I now direct that the Leader of the Majority Party or the Departmental Committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperatives should reintroduce a Bill for an Act of Parliament to amend the Sacco Societies Act as contemplated in the Sacco Societies (Amendment) Act, which was declared unconstitutional by the Court of Appeal, for expeditious reconsideration by the House.

Other lawmakers however celebrated the court ruling, saying it had finally settled the perennial supremacy battle between the two Houses.

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa said with the Court of Appeal ruling, the perennial sibling rivalry should come to an end.

“The Senate should be given a copy of this ruling. The sibling rivalry we have been having is uncalled-for. The Senate needs to accept that they are the lower House and we move together as a family,” Dr Wamalwa said.

Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch said the judgment made it clear that the senators had been boxing above their weight.

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