Speaker Justin Muturi mulls harsh penalties for misbehaving legislators
By Alphonce Shiundu
| October 16th 2014
|National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi [PHOTO:COLLINS KWEYU/STANDARD]|
NAIROBI, KENYA: A report of a crucial disciplinary committee has exposed the indignity of honourable members, as it lifts the veil on the details of embarrassing incidents involving MPs within Parliament Buildings.
The trend is so bad that Speaker Justin Muturi and the Committee on Privileges now want a review of the law and the speaker’s rules to get harsh penalties for errant lawmakers.
The report details hitherto unreported rot of physical attacks and unprintable verbal abuse – only that the committee decided to print every abuse.
The report of the Committee on Privileges gives a blow by blow account of a violent altercation between two MPs who fought each other over a Sh3.5 million debt. It also details a Sh337,347 damage that one angry MP caused when she allegedly broke chairs and a table.
Sirisia MP Major (Rtd) John Waluke and Arthur Odera (Teso North) exchanged blows as they pulled and pushed each other on the corridors of the House in a brawl that caught the attention of the powerful committee. The fight occurred just as the MPs left the chamber, next to the main reception which is manned by the sergeant-at-arms.
“The members admitted exchanging words and roughing each other up in the presence of colleagues and staff. It does not matter the motive for the fight,” the report noted.
According to Odera’s testimony to the committee, Waluke interrupted a conversation he (Odera) was having with Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) and Dalmas Otieno (Rongo) and then began abusing him. But Waluke says Odera had broken an agreement and was simply ensuring compliance.
“Waluke...very crudely followed me and started asking me about why I said he had ‘kifafa’ (epilepsy). I was at a loss. I have heard instances of him causing violence and I did not believe we could have a meaningful discussion with him at that point,” Odera said.
As Odera walked away, Waluke pulled him back and threatened to ‘knock off his teeth’. Waluke denied issuing threats. “Thereafter he asserted that I do not know him well and threatened that he is going to teach me a lifelong lesson,” said Odera.
The Teso North MP paints Waluke as his aggressor: “I kept trying to get away from him, but he kept following me and pulling me back. At one point, he attempted to hold my neck but I pushed his hand away. All this while, he kept throwing insults at me.”
David Ochieng’ (Ugenya) intervened and seeing the burly Waluke on the heels of the scared Odera, he pulled him into a lounge. Odera claimed Waluke hurled unprintable insults within earshot of two staff (including a female officer) who were manning the reception.
Waluke appeared before the com?mittee and confessed he had an altercation with Odera and that he used ‘an abusive word’ against his colleague. He, however, denied he had vowed to circumcise Odera.
Odera had said he had hired a grader for three days at a maximum cost of Sh180,000. But Waluke said he had hired out two excavators, a roller, a wheel-loader, two graders, a dump truck, and sprinkler truck, and 200 people to work on the roads.
“We have a covenant that he would either deposit a payment of Sh3 million with National Oil, Bungoma or pay Sirisia CDF”.
For up to eight weeks, Odera went under as the works continued. “We had agreed to jointly supervise the works, of which he never showed up at all. I kept calling him up... he constantly avoided me,” said Waluke in his testimony to the Committee on Privileges.
The Sirisia MP complained that every time he met Odera, he just dismissed him casually.
“I tried on several occasions to get his attention so that we would finalise this matter ...he was non-committal... I requested him amicably to deal with this issue in honesty, sincerity and seriousness,” said Waluke.
Waluke insists that Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong will back his story. He also dared the speaker to visit the ground in Bungoma and Busia counties to see the roads.
The committee has also referred a case where an MP and his constituent who works for Parliament argued and exchanged barbs within the precincts of the august House. Ali Wario (Bura) and the principal security officer Major (rtd) Kirungu Majiba had an altercation at Continental House.
Wario felt slighted that the former soldier had soiled his honour.
“Majiba shouted and harassed me before the visitor and the public despite having been told I am a Member of Parliament. This caused me a lot of pain and embarrassment,” Wario said. The committee referred the matter to the Parliamentary Service Commission, the employer of all parliamentary staff.
Recently, Laikipia North MP Mathew Lekidime was kicked out of a plane for being a ‘rogue’ passenger at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Kenyans can apply for driving licence onlineIf you are planning to renew or acquire a driving licence, you have a reason to smile as a new digital system is set to make the process easier.
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