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Man who sued Kenya’s deputy president murdered? No evidence and claim not published by Citizen TV

A screenshot has been posted on Facebook in Kenya, appearing to show a link to an article from Citizen TV Kenya with a disturbing headline. 

The headline reads: “Man who sued DP Ruto for using his bottom up idea without consent was found murdered along Thika Road last week.” 

The screenshot includes a hyperlink and a photo of a man in suspenders, tie and hat, presumably the alleged victim. It appears to be a post from the Citizen TV Kenya Facebook page.

One Facebook user who posted the screenshot appeared to blame deputy president William Ruto for the alleged murder. Another user posted the screenshot to four different Facebook groups with a joint membership of over 600,000.

Ruto, who leads the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), is running for president in Kenya’s August 2022 general election. He has been promoting a “bottom-up” economic model in his campaign, which he says will focus on uplifting low-income earners.

It was widely reported in November 2021 that “professional marketerJacob Muting’a Kioko was challenging the political slogan “bottom-up economics” in the high court in Nairobi, claiming the model was his “innovation”.

But does the photo in the screenshot show Kioko, has he been found dead and was this news really posted by Citizen TV on Facebook? We checked.


Dead man challenged Ruto’s model on Facebook, not in court

A reverse image search of the photo in the screenshot led us to the Facebook profile of Martin Mwaniki. Mwaniki was killed in a road accident on the busy Thika highway in March 2022. 

According to reports, Mwaniki wanted to run for the Gatundu constituency parliamentary seat in Kiambu county in the August elections. Kiambu borders Nairobi to the north. 

Mwaniki had made similar claims to Kioko in a lengthy Facebook post in October 2021. He wrote that he “started the bottoms up economic model conversation in the year 2014” and “came up with bottom up economic model blueprint”. 

But Africa Check could find no evidence that Mwaniki had taken this complaint to the courts and we could find no reports of foul play in his death. 

No evidence of post

We thought it unlikely that Citizen TV would have gotten the facts so muddled, so next we searched on Facebook for the exact words from the screenshot and came up empty.

Then we copied and followed the link in the screenshot. But this led to an unrelated article published by the TV station on 21 March 2022. The article was about a hike in fuel prices.

There is no indication that the late Martin Mwaniki, who had criticised Ruto’s use of the term “bottom-up economics”, was murdered. He had not gone to court to claim ownership of the term. We could also find no evidence that Jacob Kioko, who was challenging the model in the high court, had been murdered.

It would appear that someone copied the link to an existing but unrelated Citizen TV article when falsifying the post in this screenshot. It was not published or posted on Facebook by Citizen TV.

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