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Phone Jams, Internet Disruptions, High Court Zoom Failures: A Series of Unfortunate Digital Interruptions

High Court

The Judiciary was put on the spot on Thursday, June 27, following the interruption of a highly sensitive ruling concerning the government’s security response of deploying Kenya’s military, to quell the ongoing finance bill protests following the Occupation of Parliament and deadly violence.

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From phone jams to internet disruptions and High Court Zoom failures, a series of unfortunate digital disruptions have taken place since the finance bill protests escalated in Kenya.

The culmination of it was the court verdict on KDF’s deployment, which was to be released at 3 pm on the same day but began three hours later at around 6:45 pm.

Read Also: DCJ Philomena: We Received Numerous Phone Calls Over the Weekend

What began as a seamless new-age digital court proceeding, ended in utter embarrassment as the virtual court session experienced numerous technical difficulties forcing the court to stop the livestream and restart all over again.

While delivering the ruling, Justice Lawrence Mugambi encountered a sudden microphone malfunction that muted him on the virtual call. His visible frustration was evident during the televised session as he attempted to continue the broadcast.

Approximately 800 participants in the Zoom call voiced their frustration over the muted microphone.

Kenyans, already on high alert following the widespread chaos in the country and the previous internet disruptions, still question the reason behind the technical issues and delay in the outcome. 

Read Also: My Phone Calls Were Jammed – Wandayi Confirms Gabriel Oguda’s Abduction

Internet Disruptions Finance Bill Netblocks

The Judiciary, having only digitised their systems, though their ambition is admirable, many question whether such a matter concerning national security should have been handled more sensitively.

One thing is sure: Thursday’s technical fiasco has cast a shadow over the Judiciary’s digital capabilities.

The High Court’s inability to manage a seamless virtual session during a critical ruling has also raised questions about the new system’s reliability.

Mixed reporting from several media outlets further muddled matters and confused Kenyans owing to the spread of misinformation and disinformation across social media. This came at a critically defining point of the Finance Bill protests and the Government’s hardline response.

High Court ruling Zoom Failure causes confusiion online

The KDF’s deployment status is still in doubt among the public because of broadcast disruptions. This has led to discussions about the Judiciary’s readiness to completely embrace digital platforms for such sensitive proceedings .

The KDF has been patrolling Nairobi’s streets and protecting the State Houses of Nakuru and Kisumu. In Nairobi’s CBD, heavily armed soldiers in armoured vehicles and tanks carried out routine patrols and encountered protesters along Moi Avenue, with no incidences reported.

Against the backdrop of the High Court ruling, Kenyan telecoms giant Safaricom came under intense public scrutiny following the nationwide internet outage on Tuesday, June 25.

Internet Disruptions Finance Bill Safaricom
Internet Disruptions Finance Bill Netblocks

The Telecom released a statement that the disruption was due to undersea cables. The report went contrary to internet observatory platform Netblocks, which refuted Safaricom’s claim, saying there was no indication of physical damage to undersea cables to justify the 2-hour-long internet disruption that coincided with the countrywide protests.

According to Techcabal, Safaricom’s internet disruption irked customers and some of its biggest creative partners, including social media influencers. Tens, including former rugby player and chef Ombachi Dennis, cut ties with the company. “I won’t be working with you, as your values are not aligned with mine,” Ombachi posted on X.

Meanwhile, The National Assembly Minority Leader, Opiyo Wandayi, revealed his phone calls were jammed when his staff, Gabriel Oguda, a policy analyst, was abducted by unknown individuals on Tuesday, June 25, at 2:30 AM.

The abduction happened after Oguda called him in distress, claiming there were men, whom he described as cops, breaking into his house. Wandayi claims his phone was blocked and he was unable to make calls until 6:00 Am the same day.

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