IEBC's Juliana Cherera wants Ruto summoned in ouster hearings 

Dissenting commissioners

IEBC vice chairperson Juliana Cherera (second left) with commissioners (from left) Justus Nyang’aya, Irene Masit and Wanderi Kamau. Lawyer Apollo Mboya, appearing for Cherera, demanded that President William Ruto be made to appear before the committee to state what he knows about the commissioners.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

The parliamentary investigations into the conduct of four commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), took a new turn yesterday after a lawyer appearing for one of the commissioners demanded that President William Ruto be summoned before MPs for calling the commissioners ‘rogue’. 

Lawyer Apollo Mboya, appearing before the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) of the National Assembly for IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera, demanded that President Ruto be made to appear before the committee to state what he knows about the commissioners. 

Ms Cherera and three of her other colleagues at the seven-member IEBC — Mr Justus Nyangaya, Ms Irene Masit and Mr Francis Wanderi — are being investigated by the House committee over their conduct in the August 9, 2022, presidential election in four petitions filed in Parliament. 

The petitioners want the four commissioners kicked out of the IEBC for rejecting the presidential election results announced by commission chairman Wafula Chebukati on August 15, 2022, declaring Dr Ruto the winner of the hotly contested elections against his main challenger Mr Raila Odinga. 

The committee was forced to adjourn its afternoon sitting yesterday after Ms Masit, who was scheduled to appear before the committee, declined the invitation, opting instead to seek justice in court.

The four petitioners want the committee to find the four commissioners unsuitable to continue serving and want the House committee to recommend to the President to form a tribunal to further investigate their conduct and recommend their removal from office. 

Controversial tweet

Mr Mboya told the committee that on November 25, 2022, a tweet from President Ruto aimed at the four commissioners, implied that he has already judged them and that the House committee could be engaged in a matter whose outcome is already predetermined. 

“We need further and better particulars from the President on what he meant by his tweet casting the four commissioners in a bad light even before they are convicted. I invite the committee to sanction me if what I am saying is not true,” Mr Mboya told the committee.
Just like judges, chairs and members of constitutional commissions can only be removed from office through a tribunal formed by the President. 

President Ruto’s tweet on the four commissioners read: “The lords of impunity, who destroyed oversight institutions using the handshake fraud, should allow Parliament to hold rogue officials who put the nation in danger by subverting the democratic will of the people to be held to account.” 

It continued; “New order is RULE of LAW not wishes of big men.” 
This is the tweet Mr Mboya wants the committee to interrogate the President on. 

“The end of this committee’s work may reach the desk of the person who has called the four commissioners rogue. If the tribunal has to be formed to investigate the conduct of the commissioners, it will be set up by the person who is calling the commissioners rogue,” said Mr Mboya. 

Critical documentation

“We will not proceed without the critical documentation I have requested from the committee,” he said as he accused Parliament of failing to act on his letters of November 18, 23 and 25, 2022 requesting the documents. 
However, Mr Murugara told Mr Mboya that Standing Order 87 of the National Assembly restricts the House and its committees from discussing the conduct of the President, Speaker and judges, among others, without a properly moved motion. 

“Neither the personal conduct of the President, the Speaker, the judicial conduct of a person performing judicial functions, or the conduct of the head of state of any friendly country or the conduct of the holder of an office whose removal from such office is dependent upon a decision of the House shall be referred to adversely without a substantive motion,” reads the Standing Order. 

Mr Mboya demanded that he be furnished with crucial documentation before his client considers filing any response to the committee on the issues raised in the petitions. 
Lawyer Donald Kipkorir appearing for Ms Masit, threw the committee’s afternoon sittings yesterday into a quandary after he said in a letter that his client would not participate in the committee proceedings. 

Read: Azimio, lawyers stage walkout as IEBC Four dismiss hearing

“The committee will not be getting any presentation from Irene,” said Mr Kipkorir in the November 28, 2022 letter to the clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Samuel Njoroge.

Mr Kipkorir informed the committee that his client had opted to move to court to challenge the committee’s jurisdiction to hear the petitions against her.  
With yesterday’s committee proceedings jolted by Mr Mboya’s demands and the nonappearance of Ms Masit or her counsel, Mr Kipkorir, it is highly unlikely that today’s planned sessions with Mr Nyangaya and Mr Wanderi will take off. 

Among the documents, Mr Mboya wants to be furnished with to file his client’s response includes the Hansard report of the committee’s proceedings and the ruling of the committee that affirmed its jurisdiction to hear the four petitions.

He also wants a record of all the petitions filed in the House against the IEBC commissioners and yesterday’s ruling of the committee granting his request for adjournment, to enable him to read the documents he has requested and prepare to file his client’s response.