MPs rejected a committee report seeking to remove the electoral agency bosses amid protests over a tendency by the House to frustrate reports indicting state officers.
The House expunged sections of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report that recommended sacking of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati, commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu over alleged misappropriation of taxpayer’s money during the last General Elections.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi ruled that it was not within the mandate of the committee to recommend removal of the commissioners.
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The ruling by Muturi was triggered by protests by a majority of the MPs last week that the Opiyo Wandayi-led committee was out to remove the commissioners through the backdoor.
Article 251 of the Constitution states that a commissioner can only be removed from office through a petition to the National Assembly on grounds of contravention of Chapter Six, physical or mental incapacity, incompetence and bankruptcy.
“Finding or recommendation by the Public Accounts Committee in the report tabled before the House which expressly falls outside the mandate of the Committee, or one that offends the provisions of Articles 47 or 251 or section 10 of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act, 2011, would be inadmissible,” ruled Muturi.
The House also rescued acting chief officer Marjan Hussein, Praxedes Tororey (Director, Legal Services) and James Muhati (Director, ICT) from ouster after Muturi ruled that the recommendation they be sacked was not backed by the Constitution.
“This is because, while this section is supported by admissible observations of the Committee, the recommendation is proposing the removal from office of staff of a constitutional Commission in a manner that is neither contemplated by the Constitution nor supported by the relevant statute providing for the manner of vacation of office of such staff and governing their discipline,” he added.
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MPs opposed to the report had accused PAC of overstepping their mandate, highlighting that it was wrong to punish commissioners over procurement as it was the role of the secretariat.
Others also argued that the committee’s mandate was limited to how the commission spent taxpayer’s money and not how they conducted the General Elections.
Muturi clarified that “expunging the offensive parts of the Report is not to mean that the entire report is discredited” as he directed that the remaining part will be tabled for the House consideration.
But Minority Leader John Mbadi and Minority Whip Junet Mohammed protested there was no need of debating the report as it had remained a skeleton.
“If it was a human being, I would say that the heart has been removed, liver has been removed. The report has just remained skeleton. It is not going to be of value for House to debate this report because it is mutilated,” said Mbadi.
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Juney said, “In conformity with your ruling, what am seeing is a body that has lost all the organs. If we debate on this report after your ruling, we will be debating over a dead report. This report is dead.”
Marakwet East MP Kangogo Bowen, however, said the ruling should serve as a lesson to committee chairpersons who uses the House teams for mischievous agenda.
“This ruling will go a long way for committee who have become mischievous. This report if they can withdraw and they go back and write a report in conformity of your ruling,” said Bowen.
Consequently, Wandayi requested the Speaker to allow the committee to make further amendments so that investigative agencies can initiate probe into the officers fingered in the report for expeditious action against those who would be found culpable.
It is not the first time the House has rejected a report indicting State officers, with the sugar report remaining one of the conspicuous reports that was defeated amid reports of bribery in the House.
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The report was rejected thus saving Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and then Trade CS Adan Mohammed, who at that time were staring at being kicked out of the Cabinet.
The Senate also rejected a report that indicted Interior CS Fred Matiangí and Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang over the Ruaraka land scandal.