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Yes, Kenyan MP arrested for ‘illegal BBI meeting’

“BREAKING: MP arrested over illegal BBI gathering,” says the headline of an article shared on Facebook on 24 February 2020. 

BBI is short for the Building Bridges Initiative, a national unity drive that may have led to divisions between Kenya’s political elite.

The article, on the County news website, was flagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system. 

We investigated.

Arrest widely reported by mainstream media

According to the County article, Johana Ng’eno, member of parliament for Emurua Dikirr constituency in Narok county, west of the capital Nairobi, was arrested and held at Ololulunga police station.

The article shows a photo of a handcuffed man next to a police vehicle and two men in uniform.  

News of Ng’eno’s dramatic arrest was aired on mainstream media and published on Kenyan digital news platforms on 24 February. A video posted on Daily Nation, a popular independent newspaper, makes it clear that the man in the County photo is Johana Ng’eno. 

In a Citizen TV video uploaded on the day, it was reported that the police had arrested Ng’eno for holding an illegal anti-BBI meeting. The lawmaker was apparently addressing locals about a BBI meeting in the county the week before. 

In the video, Ng’eno is seen resisting arrest and questioning the police officers about double standards.  

More pro-BBI rallies were scheduled for March 2020, but were stopped after the government banned all public gatherings in efforts to halt the spread of the new coronavirus. The first Kenyan case of Covid-19 was reported on 12 March. – Grace Gichuhi 


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