Monica Juma differs with Muturi, PSC over controversial Bill

Attorney General Justine Muturi and President William Ruto’s National Security Advisor Monica Juma. [File, Standard]

Members of Parliament have read the riot act to government agencies for speaking at cross purposes about two legislative proposals before the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

The move came after President William Ruto’s National Security Advisor Monica Juma differed with Attorney General Justin Muturi on the origin of the contentious National Government Administration Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

The Bill proposes the creation of the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) position and office of the National Security Advisor to the President. The proposals, if adopted, would also designate the National Security Advisor as the Secretary to the National Security Council.

The Bill also proposes the transfer of the custody of the Public Seal from the Powerful Attorney General’s office to that of the Head of Public Service headed by Felix Koskei an ally of President Ruto.

Amb Juma while appearing before the House team, endorsed the Bill noting that while the appointee to the office of the National Security Advisor (NSA) to the President would serve at the behest of the Head of State, anchoring the office in law would ensure they enjoy security of tenure.

“I endorse the proposals in the National Government Administration Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023 as tabled by Attorney General Justin Muturi,” she said.

Committee chair George Murugara however sought to know whether Juma was aware of the source of the Bill given that Muturi and other government agencies that appeared before the team had disowned it.

“We have tried to interrogate the Ministry of Interior but they claim they do not know the source of the Bill. We interrogated the Attorney General, but he claims not to know the source of the Bill, the Secretary to the Cabinet also has no idea of the source of the Bill. Can you tell us who is the originator of the Bill?” Posed Murugara.

“Have you seen a policy paper on this Bill, have you seen a Cabinet memo on this Bill because that may be the source of the conflict in government, that one hand knows what is happening and the other doesn’t,” he added.

To which Juma replied, “The assumption is that government Bills are handled by the Attorney General. The document I am referencing has been signed by the Attorney General.”

She also defended the creation of the NSA office noting that the proposed amendments which would see her office anchored in law and assigned functions, aligned with best practices across the world where the NSA heads the secretariat of the National Security Council.

“I propose that the National Security Advisor shall serve at the discretion of the President. This is because in all jurisdictions with this establishment, the NSA tenure runs concurrent to that of the appointing authority and serves at their discretion. They also form part of the executive office of the President,” stated Juma.

Public Service Commission on its part however objected to the entrenchment of the office of NSA in the law, saying that would be unconstitutional as the membership of the council is explicit in the Constitution.

Head of legal at PSC Jackline Monami told the committee that entrenching the position would open a pandora’s box where other advisors serving in different ministries would demand for a law change so they could experience similar treatment.

“The proposal in the Bill should be deleted and the President allowed to retain a free hand on how and who he appoints as the National Security advisor,” stated Monami.

Their submissions, however, only attracted the ire of the committee members.

Dadaab MP Farah Maalim accused the state officers of contradicting each other and wondered why the government agencies had failed to agree before appearing before the committee.

“I would have thought that you should have ironed out your differences and brought us an agreed upon document. But here internal security has an idea, the AG thinks otherwise, the PSC is in opposition, you are all confusing us,” said Maalim.

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo also asked Juma, why she would attribute the Bill to the AG who had since disowned the document.

“In your letter you say you support the Bbill as submitted by the AG, the AG was here and he said he has never seen this Bbill, who is fooling who?” Amollo posed.

The committee is set to continue with public participation on Thursday.