Based on the Supreme Court ruling on the presidential petition, the petitions before the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee do not seem substantial enough to warrant the removal of the four electoral body commissioners.
The best way to get Juliana Cherera, Francis Wanderi, Irene Masit and Justus Nyangaya, would have been to ask them to resign. This is what happened with the Isaac Hassan-led commission in 2016.
Their exit obviously cost us about Sh315 million. However, this proves it was harder to get them out in any other way than to ask them to resign and be paid every cent they would have earned had they completed their term.
The current process is already turning up the political heat to the extent of attracting a tweet from the president calling them ‘rogue’. I am not sure how the principle of natural justice will process this one, but it seems they have already been condemned before being heard.
This is already foddering for another long political and legal contestation that the president would have avoided at this early stage of his administration.
According to the Constitution, an IEBC commissioner may be removed only if they have seriously violated the law, had cases of gross misconduct, lack physical or mental capacity to work, are incompetent or bankrupt.
The petitions before JLAC are pegged on events beginning on August 15, 2022 when the four commissioners walked out of Bomas and rejected results that were about to be announced terming the tallying process ‘opaque’.
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Now, in as much the subsequent consolidated petition fell flat on its face at the Supreme Court, it is only in the issue of the tallying process at Bomas that the petitioners seem to have made some slight headway.
In the ruling, Chief Justice Martha Koome clearly indicated that the power to tally and verify election results is not vested in the chairperson only but the whole commission and thus found Wafula Chebukati to have acted outside the law.
This was the gist of the walkout by the four. It is only that they did not give any numerical substance to their claim except for the famous Cherera error of 0.01 per cent variance. Thus, they were vindicated on their claim that Chabukati had taken over and handled the tallying process as an individual rather than a commission.
Their actions are nothing compared to substance of the 2017 election petition that led to nullification of the presidential election results.
Yet, Chabukati and the two commissioners who stuck with him, went on to conduct another general election. Thus, I don’t see how actions of Cherera four would be enough reason for their removal. A political settlement would be better.
-The writer is anchor at Radio Maisha