Senators yesterday accused the chairperson of a committee of shielding two Cabinet secretaries from answering tough questions regarding the implementation of the Sh6 billion biometric registration.
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and his ICT counterpart Joe Mucheru had been invited by the senators to shed light on the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) registration that has been rolled out in parts of the country. The exercise hopes to give every Kenyan a unique Huduma Namba.
But those who attended the two-hour closed-door meeting came out reading from different scipts.
Briefing journalists after the session, the National Security, Defence and Foreign Relations committee chairperson Yusuf Haji said all the sticky issues had been addressed by the two CSs and that the committee was more than satisfied with the responses.
“We had an in-depth discussion with the two Cabinet secretaries. We are happy they have addressed all the concerns the senators had,” explained Mr Haji, who was flanked by Dr Matiang’i, Mr Mucheru and Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki.
Members of the ICT Committee led by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi were present at the meeting together with those from the Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights team led by Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei.
Matiang’i declined to take questions from journalists. “We had a fantastic meeting,” is all he said.
Speaking later to The Standard after the meeting, Mr Cherargei expressed displeasure at the manner Haji conducted the meeting, revealing that their burning questions were not adequately answered.
According to the Nandi Senator, questions on the sustainability of the programme and the safety of the data collected were not addressed by the CSs.
The senator added that Matiang’i and Mucheru also failed to explain why the State is keen on implementing the programme, despite absence of necessary laws and the fact that Parliament has not been involved in the implementation process.
“The meeting was restrictive, we were not accorded ample time to interrogate the issues as much as we wished. We are not satisfied at all contrary to what Senator Haji said,” explained Cherargei.
House Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Junior echoed the sentiments.
“Nothing was resolved at the meeting. The concerns we raised on behalf of Kenyans on data protection have not been addressed. The ministers did not give us an assurance that the data that will be collected will be safe,” said the Makueni senator.
The Senate had poked holes in the entire process that led to the roll-out of the ambitious programme which has already started on pilot basis in 15 counties.
On February 28, the House unsuccessfully directed that the programme be stopped and summoned Matiang’i and Mucheru after they failed to honour an invitation to appear before a committee.
This was after Kericho Senator Cheruiyot sought a ministerial statement on the matter, noting the issue was grave and the process was shrouded in mystery.
“The reason why we are not being given answers as a committee, I want to believe somebody knows. If these answers were to be brought to the fore then there will be a lot of trouble,” said Senator Cheruiyot.
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