Key issues House team on ‘IEBC 4’ faces as it retreats to write report
The parliamentary committee considering the petitions seeking the removal from office of four electoral agency commissioners faces five legal issues as it retreats today to write its report.
The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee is looking at four petitions to remove Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners Juliana Cherera, Justus Nyang’aya, Irene Masit and Francis Wanderi.
The committee, chaired by Tharaka MP George Murugara, is expected to table its report tomorrow afternoon.
The four commissioners protested against the process and refused to participate in it, saying they had not been given time to file responses.
The committee will have to convince the House to agree with its recommendations by tackling key legal questions raised by lawyers representing the four commissioners and the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition.
Among them is a claim that the entire process violated Standing Order 223, which provides that a petition cannot be admitted to a hearing unless it indicates whether any efforts have been made to have the matter addressed by a relevant body All four petitioners admitted during the hearings that they had not raised the matter with either IEBC or the Public Service Commission.
The committee will also have to address the question of Article 250 (9) of the constitution, which protects constitutional commissioners from being removed from office while discharging their duty as they are acting in public faith. The lawyers had said their clients were being “punished” for acting in good faith, as provided in the law.
The committee is also confronted by the question of the time frame for hearing and making a determination on the matter. The counsels argued that each petition should have been given 14 days to give the commissioners time to respond to them.
“Since four petitions have been filed ... it follows that each of the four petitions should have been allocated a period of 14 days, totalling 56 days,” reads part of the preliminary objection raised by Jotham Arwa, representing Mr Nyang’aya.
The commissioners also told the committee that the accused is supposed to be given adequate time and facilities to prepare a defence and be given evidence to be used against them.
Azimio, through Secretary-General Junet Mohamed, in a letter to National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, also challenged the ground rules made by the committee chairman in regard to the hearing of the petition. He pointed out that the rules made by the committee ought to have been subjected to approval by the whole House.
During the proceedings yesterday, lawyer Nduru Gichamba, representing Mr Wanderi, said his client would not appear before the committee as his rights would be infringed on.
The lawmakers, however, criticised the lawyers saying they are employing delay tactics.