Azimio seeks CJ Koome's intervention in bid to de-whip Sabina Chege

Nominated Member of Parliament Sabina Chege. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya is now calling on Chief Justice Martha Koome to intervene in a court order that halted the de-whipping of Nominated MP Sabina Chege as the National Assembly Deputy Minority Whip.

In a letter addressed to Justice Koome, the party's legal team, Paul Mwangi & Co Advocates, highlighted issues surrounding the court proceedings and sought intervention to address what they perceive as a gross subversion and “sabotage” of the due administration of justice.

On June 8, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula told members that the Ms Chege’s removal was incomplete when viewed against the requirement of the Standing Order 20a.

“The court order effectively suspends the decision by the minority party on the replacement of Sabina Chege as the Deputy Minority Whip,” Wetang'ula announced.

The Speaker further explained that his hands were tied by a court order that stayed the ouster of the Nominated MP.

The matter originated from a petition filed by the Association of Friends of Youth and Women on May 30, before the High Court in Kiambu, with the National Assembly Speaker, Clerk, the National Assembly, and the Attorney General named as respondents. The petition sought a conservatory order through a Notice of Motion under a certificate of urgency. However, the legal team for Azimio  contends that there are critical concerns arising from this situation.

Azimio now raises concerns about a potential case of 'Forum Shopping,' where the petition was filed in Kiambu despite the alleged violations taking place in Nairobi.

According to the Constitution (Protection of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) Practice and Procedure Rules, 2013, cases should be instituted in the High Court within the jurisdiction where the violation occurred.

Furthermore, the legal team argues that there was a deliberate non-joinder of Azimio and Chege in the case.

“Curiously, though it talks of the supposed tribulations of the Sabina Wanjiru Chege, and even makes prayers for her to the court, she is also not made a party to the proceeding,” reads the letter to the CJ.

During the Jubilee National Delegates Conference (NDC) chaired by former President Uhuru Kenyatta, the party settled on Embakasi West MP Mark Mwenje, as Deputy Minority Whip, replacing Chege, who is allied to Kenya Kwanza coalition.

In a case filed in the High Court, the Nominated MP claimed that the communication to de-whip her was drastic as she was not given a chance by Azimio to argue her case. 

However, it is rather ironic for Chege to continue aspiring to serve in the leadership of the minority party, considering the recent announcement by East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) MP Kanini Kega, on Kenya Kwanza-allied Jubilee Party faction. Yesterday, Kega announced the party's decision to withdraw from the Deed of Agreement for Azimio, casting doubt on the sustainability of Chege's position within the coalition.

The role of the Minority Whip, as defined by Standing Order No. 2, is to represent a parliamentary party and facilitate the smooth functioning of business in the National Assembly. Both the Majority and Minority whips play crucial roles in ensuring party members' attendance for important and contentious matters, appointing members to committees, and upholding party discipline among the legislators.

Chege's hold on the position remains a matter of political contention, particularly as the National Assembly prepares to deliberate the controversial Finance Bill, 2023. As the power struggle within the Jubilee Party escalates the faction allied to Azimio and the Kega team allied to Kenya Kwanza continue to pull apart.