What tribunal ruling exactly means for Irene Masit's future

Suspended IEBC Commissioner Irene Masit. [File, Standard]

Suspended IEBC Commissioner Irene Masit might not be in a position to get any appointive or competitive State job should she decide against filing an appeal, or in case the tribunal's verdict is upheld by the courts.

Justice Aggrey Muchelule-led tribunal on Monday, February 27, recommended the removal of Commissioner Masit from office, citing gross misconduct and violation of the Kenyan Constitution.

Masit was among four commissioners that publicly denounced the August 9, 2022 presidential results announced by former IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati.

The tribunal said allegations that Masit endorsed the skewing of the results in favour of President William Ruto's main opponent, Raila Odinga, were sufficiently proved.

"These actions were a clear, blatant and willful attempt at usurping the sovereign will of the people," the tribunal stated in its report.

The tribunal has since sent the report, which is binding, to President Ruto for actioning.

The Head of State has 30 days to act on it should Masit fail to file an appeal within the said-period.

Constitutional lawyer Bobby Mkangi says that Masit risks being locked out of any appointive or competitive job opportunity within the public service should she successfully be removed from office.

"The commissioner, as per the tribunal's verdict, acted in violation of Article 10 of the Kenyan Constitution on National Values and Principles of Governance and Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity. She also breached several other provisions of the law. The ruling bars her from holding any public office," said Mkangi.

The lawyer, however, put the rider that Masit could qualify for a job in the public service if she has an active appeal against the tribunal's decision.

"She can only be barred from public office if she exhausts all her appeal options, and the tribunal's decision remains upheld," said Mkangi.

Another lawyer, Ken Echesa, agrees with Mkangi's sentiments, saying Masit can only be locked out of public service if she has no other appeal avenues left.

"If she loses all her appeals, it would weigh heavily on her future [in the public service]. Constitutionally, she will be deemed to be unfit to hold any public office," said Echesa.

The lawyer was, however, skeptical to say the law would be followed to the letter, citing the case of former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, who had been removed from office for gross violation of the Constitution, and had exhausted all his appeal options, but was still picked by President Ruto for a state job as a member of the Nairobi Rivers Commission.

"If she (Masit) finds herself in good books with the future administration, she might end being selected for a public office, just like Waititu has [with the current administration]. However, that doesn't make it right or lawful," he said.

It is yet to be known whether Masit will file an appeal against the tribunal's ruling, or not.