Justus Nyangaya's lawyer Jotham Arwa appears before JLAC at County Hall, Nairobi, November 29, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) has retreated to write a report after concluding hearing the petitions against four IEBC commissioners.

During the hearings that were conducted in Parliament Buildings in Nairobi on Monday and Tuesday, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera and commissioners Irine Masit, Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang'aya did not appear in person but sent their advocates to represent them.

JLAC Chairperson George Murugara told the commissioners that the committee was not out to put them through a judicial process but was only investigating claims made against them in the four petitions to see whether they merit being in the commission or should be dismissed.

“The four respondents had the option of presenting themselves in person, sending their advocates to represent them or making written submissions replying to the petitions against them before the conclusion of the process,” said Mr Murugara.

Committee Vice Chairperson Mwengi Mutuse said if the allegations in the petitions are not challenged by the four commissioners, it means they agreed with them and the committee has no other option but to conclude its work.

Mr Mutuse said the committee intended to give the four a chance to defend themselves against the allegations, but it was unfortunate that they decided to stay away.

“The National Assembly Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs is out to give the petitioners and respondents a fair hearing. It is unfortunate that all of them opted to stay away... we are going to work with what we have,” he said.

Cherera was represented by lawyer Apollo Mboya, who was the first to appear before the committee on Monday. She was granted 24 hours to go through documents requested but failed to appear at 4pm Tuesday as directed.

Advocate Nduro Gichamba representing Wanderi told the committee that his client was not be able to make his response since they had not received minutes of meetings between commissioners, National Security Council and footage from Bomas of Kenya.

Nyangaya, who was represented by lawyer Jotham Arwa, said he needed to understand the charges against him before responding. He said he needed a lot of information and material to defend himself, which was not provided.

Masit failed to honour summons to make her submissions before the committee on Monday. Murugara said her lawyer Donald Kipkorir had sent a letter, saying his client was not willing to participate in the proceedings since she considered them a violation of the Constitution.

If the committee finds the petitions valid, they will recommend to the president to form a tribunal to investigate the four commissioners.