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Chaos as Gedi tables document on Ruto land grab claims

Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi addresses the media during National Assembly special sitting on Wednesday, January 5, 2022 [David Njaaga, Standard]

The National Assembly afternoon sitting was yesterday adjourned after it turned chaotic when Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi tabled documents accusing Deputy President William Ruto of land grabbing.

Ms Gedi had initially made the claims against DP Ruto on Tuesday, and was expected to table documents to substantiate the accusations.

And yesterday, the Woman Rep walked into the chambers with a suitcase full of documents. 

However, the session soon turned into a shouting match between the Speaker Justin Muturi and a section of MPs.

The agitated legislators questioned whether Mr Muturi would preside fairly over a sitting where Ruto, a leader of Kenya Kwanza Coalition, which Mr Muturi is signed up to, was under interrogation.

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo stoked the fire when he questioned whether Mr Muturi could be trusted to be impartial. He was backed by Suna East MP Junet Mohammed.

“I'd like you to give guidance, because I know you can remove yourself from that situation of conflict temporarily and give clear guidance for present and future on this very unprecedented situation," Mr Otiende said.

He said Mr Muturi's political alignment with DP Ruto put him in a conflict of interest and the House in a difficult position. 

“I would suggest Mr Speaker, the person to make that decision should not be yourself because that goes against the most basic tenet of fair trial which is in our Constitution, you cannot be a judge in your own cause," he said.

Junet said the documents Ms Gedi was tabling could instigate DP Ruto's impeachment and they could not trust Mr Muturi to be fair.

“We had never doubted your impartiality until when we saw you signing as the party leader of the Democratic Party. We started feeling that we might not get a fair treatment in the House because there might be no impartiality,” the MP said.

But the Speaker said that his decision-making was above board, not biased.

“I appreciate that we are in very exciting times. But I think at this late hour in the day, you cannot challenge my impartiality," he said.

“All we need to do is follow all rules. And there is no conflict. There is no interest, I have no interest. I have no interest in what is being tabled. There is nothing that they worry about," he added.

Mr Muturi said that if any of the MPs felt that he was being partial, they were free to remove him as Speaker.

“If any of you feel that (I am) not serving you to your satisfaction, you again have the liberty to express yourself in the manner provided for both in article 106 and in our Standing Orders," he said.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale said the Speaker should not be questioned for impartiality by an opposition that was working at the whims of the government.

"You have not committed any crime by being a member of the Kenya Kwanza coalition. Your removal is well stipulated," he said, noting that the procedures for removing the Speaker were properly spelt out.

When Ms Gedi finally had her turn to speak, she tabled the statement, High Court judgement, and National Land Commission report linking Ruto to the grabbing of Kenya Aviation Civil Authority land to build Weston Hotel.

It also accused the DP of grabbing Lang'ata Road Primary School land and a parcel of land belonging to Albert Muteshi. 

"I take this opportunity to table Weston Hotel extended extension of its parking lot and Lang'ata Primary playing field and the teargassing of pupils by the photos," she said.

Mr Muturi was forced to adjourn the sitting until May 10 after it became chaotic. A defiant Embakasi South MP Babu Owino refused to leave the chamber after the Speaker ordered him out for speaking out of turn.

The Speaker said that according to the Standing Orders, "in the event of great disorder arising in the House, the Speaker may adjourn the House forthwith or suspend any sitting for a period to be determined by him/her."