Irene Masit's uphill task of clearing name after Chebukati bombshell

Commissioner Irene Masit during the proceedings at Justice Aggrey Muchelule Tribunal held at KICD on January 23, 2023. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

The tribunal investigating IEBC Commissioner Irine Masit's suitability to hold office is expected to recommend her removal or retention in the commission.

The tribunal adjourned sittings on Tuesday and will resume hearings on February 9 with Ms Masit expected to make her submissions before it retreats to write a report and hand it over to President William Ruto in a month.

During the two days sessions former IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati, former commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu appeared before the tribunal where they were cross examined by lead counsel Peter Murage and advocate Donald Kipkorir representing Masit.

"This tribunal will resume its hearings on February 9 with Commissioner Irine Masit expected to make her submissions before it retreats to write a report and make recommendation on whether the commissioner should continue being in office or not," said tribunal chairman, Justice Aggrey Muchelule.

The tribunal will establish if Masit grossly violated the Constitution, engaged in gross misconduct and whether she has been incompetent in discharging her duties.

Masit has promised to drop a bombshell on the conduct of the August 2022 General Election to exonerate herself of any wrongdoing. She insists she has performed her duties as per the Constitution.

The commissioner who is on suspension is the only one left in the IEBC after former chairman Chebukati, former commissioners Guliye and Molu exited last week following the end of their six year term.

Former IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera, former commissioners Justus Nyangaya and Francis Wanderi who were also expected to appear before the tribunal, resigned before it commenced.

The tribunal comprises of Justice Muchelule who is the chairman, Carolyne Kamende as Vice Chairperson, Mathew Nyabena, Saaed Khamis and Linda Kiome as members while Kibet Kirui and Irene Nchoe are joint secretaries, Peter Murage is the lead counsel assisted by Zamzam Abib.

Cherera, Wanderi, Nyangaya and Masit faced four petitions seeking their removal from office on grounds of violation of the Constitution and gross misconduct.

Chebukati, Molu and Guliye gave a blow by blow account of the happenings on August 15 last year where they implicated their four former colleagues in a ploy that was intended to subvert the will of the people through the moderation of presidential results in favour of Azimio candidate Raila Odinga.

The former commissioners said the Cherera four went against oath of office by seeking to have President William Ruto not declared the winner and instead have Raila announced.

"It appeared that there was a pre-arranged consensus between Cherera, Wanderi, Nyangaya and Masit towards altering the results in favour of the Azimio la Umoja but I was adamant that we had to adhere to the Constitution and declare William Ruto as President," said Chebukati.

Chebukati said he was disappointed that the four commissioners who joined IEBC in September 2021 had undergone induction and had been incorporated in all activities aimed at making them comfortable while discharging their duties had decided to go against their oath of office.

He told the tribunal chaos that erupted as they entered the auditorium and forced them to scamper for safety after Commission CEO Hussein Marjan and Guliye sustained injuries.

Lawyer Bobi Mkangi told The Standard that the purpose of the tribunal was to investigate the conduct of the four commissioners to determine their suitability to hold office and had no jurisdiction over Cherera, Nyangaya and Wanderi who had already resigned.

"The purpose of Muchelule tribunal was to investigate whether the four IEBC commissioners were fit to hold office, but now that Cherera, Nyangaya and Wanderi have resigned, there is no reason to investigate them as the focus turns on Masit who is yet to bow out," said Mkangi.

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula conveyed four petitions presented by the Republican Liberty Party, Rev Dennis Thumbi, Geoffrey Langat and Steve Owuor seeking the removal from office of Cherera, Masit, Nyangaya and Wanderi.

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