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Speakers Muturi, Lusaka barred from accepting Baringo MCAs' verdict on BBI Bill

KENYA
By Julius Chepkwony | February 25th 2021

Justin Muturi(Left) Speaker of the National Assembly of Kenya with Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka(Right). [File, Standard]

The High Court in Kabarnet has barred the National assembly and Senate Speakers from admitting to the bicameral house the decision by Members of the Baringo County Assembly to reject the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2020.

Justice Justus Momanyi further referred a petition filed by six people challenging the rejection of the Bill to the acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu for directions.

“By consent of both counsels the petition is referred to the Acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu to empanel a bench of three or five judges to hear and determine the application and the petition since it raises weighty issues of constitutional law and public importance,”  said Justice Momanyi in his ruling delivered yesterday.

He issued the orders following the suit filed by three ward representatives and three residents of Baringo County challenging the outcome of the February 11, debate that was marred by chaos.

MCAs Ameja Zelemoi (Churo Amaya Ward), Ernest Tarus (Kabarnet Ward) and Jebet Birchogo (nominated) were joined by former MCA Christine Ndoigo, and residents Finis Obai and Vincent Korir in filing the suit. They wanted the court to issue orders stopping Speaker David Kerich from certifying the results of the February 11 sittings that turned chaotic.

The six named the speaker of the assembly, the clerk, the speaker of the Senate, the clerk to the senate, the National Assembly and the Clerk National Assembly as respondents in the case. 

Through lawyer Gordon Ogola, the six in their petition said the conduct of the speaker and the clerk, and the proceedings of February 11 concerning the debate of the BBI Bill contravened the provisions of Section 9 of the County Governments Act.

Lawyer Gordon Ogola during the hearing of the case yesterday said the county assembly in their attempt to debate the bill did so without involving the public. Further, he noted the whole process of debating was rushed and the assembly legal committee never sat.

Being a constitutional-making process Ogola noted that the role of the citizens cannot be overlooked.

“There was chaos in the house and as such the environment was not conducive for debating and voting. This a constitutional making process and the role of the citizens cannot be overlooked,” said Ogola.

Lawyer Betty Toroitich who acted for the assembly said the orders sought had been overtaken by events as already a certificate of rejection had been prepared and submitted to the National Assembly and Senate Speakers.

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Lawyer Ogola in his response said the orders sought were not limited to the County Assembly but barred all the respondents including the speakers of the National Assembly and Senate from acting on the resolution by the Baringo County Assembly.

Justice Momanyi in the ruling further directed that it be transferred to Nairobi for the Acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu for constitutional of a three-judge bench to hear and determine it as it raises weighty constitutional matters and of public interest.

The judge granted prayers two and four in the Notice of Motion filed in Court. The prayers sought to restrain the respondents in the case from acting in any manner whatsoever implementing the decision of the assembly to reject the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

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