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Parliament adopts report calling for the suspension of IEBC Four

IEBC commissioners during a press briefing on 15th August 2022 at Serena Hotel in Nairobi. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The fate of four IEBC commissioners was yesterday sealed after the National Assembly adopted a report by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) calling for their removal from office.

The report by the George Murugara-led committee recommended the setting up of a tribunal by the President to investigate the conduct of IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera, commissioners Irene Masit, Justus Nyangaya, and Francis Wanderi, with a view of hounding them out of office.

They are accused of gross violation of the constitution, incompetence and misconduct.

JLAC further recommended the suspension of the commissioners pending the determination of the tribunal.

“…the House finds that the petitions by the Republican Party, Rev Dennis Ndwiga Nthumbi, Geoffrey Langat, and Owuor Steven Gerry disclose the grounds for the removal of office of the commissioners,” the report said.

The four commissioners were under probe for their conduct during the August 9 General Election that saw William Ruto declared the fifth President of Kenya.

Division

The report by the 15-member committee was only signed by eight members allied to Kenya Kwanza. Azimio la Umoja One Kenya MPs said the proceedings were unconstitutional and commenced with a pre-determined outcome in place.

The petitioners said the four commissioners were working in cahoots with one side of the political divide to alter the outcome of the presidential election.

Petitioner Langat based his argument on an affidavit by IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati, where he said he was visited by Azimio official Raphael Tuju, former Attorney General Amos Wako, and later members of the then National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) during vote counting in an attempt to have him declare Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga as president-elect.

He said this was a clear pointer of collusion between the four commissioners and Azimio, party leaders, and its agents and thus their conduct was contrary to the IEBC code of conduct.

Langat also cited the August 16 press conference where the four disowned the results declaring Ruto as the president-elect, citing erroneous mathematical figures.

Owuor said Masit was unconstitutionally in office since she unsuccessfully vied for political office in 2017. In June, Justice Antony Mrima ruled that Masit was not eligible for appointment as a member of IEBC since five years had not lapsed from the time she contested for an MP seat in 2017.

She was appointed in September 2021. The removal-from-office proceedings had drawn protests from the Raila Odinga-led Azimio, terming the JLAC committee a lynch mob.

Protests

They also vowed to commence mass protests across the country to defend the commissioners and to checkmate Ruto’s government.

During plenary yesterday, the minority side accused Kenya Kwanza of being on a path of vengeance and seeking to hastily kick out the commissioners from office without following due process.

“We feel gagged and we feel intimidated while trying to expedite House business. We will not be a party to an illegal exercise,” said Minority Whip Junet Mohammed before the Azimio MPs staged a walkout from the chambers.

The House had just conducted voting on a motion to extend the time allocated to plenary to allow it to dispense the House business. Kenya Kwanza MPs outvoted their Azimio counterparts leading to an extension of time.

Out of a total 96 MPs that voted for the motion, 33 were from the Azimio side where only 19 members voted.

Sustain attacks

The opposition MPs then proceeded to give a press briefing on the steps of Parliament where they vowed to sustain attacks on the Ruto government.

“The kind of hurry here is a testament to the ulterior motive behind the push by Kenya kwanza to kick out the commissioners. The motive is to not only remove the commissioners but clear the path for the country to return to the dark old days of dictatorship through the use of parliament as a conveyer belt,” said minority leader Opiyo Wandayi.

“We have refused to legitimise an illegal process and we will continue doing so until whoever cares to listen does so. The matter of the removal of four IEBC commissioners and amendment to the IEBC Act are now in the hands of the people and they will in the fullness of time address them,” he said.