More trouble for IEBC four as new censure motion lands in Senate

IEBC commissioners from left: Justus Nyang'aya, Francis Wanderi, Vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera and Irene Masit.

IEBC commissioners from left: Justus Nyang'aya, Francis Wanderi, Vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera and Irene Masit at Serena Hotel, Nairobi on August 16, 2022. Nyandarua Senator John Methu has filed another censure motion targeting the four commissioners.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote I Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The motion against the four, dated October 6, was received by the Office of the Senate Clerk, pending approval for its tabling for discussion by the House.

Troubles for four dissenting electoral commissioners continue to pile up after a senator allied to President William Ruto filed another censure motion targeting them.

Nyandarua Senator John Methu wants Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera and commissioners Irene Masit, Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang’aya charged for allegedly attempting to subvert the will of voters in the August 9 polls.

Mr Methu told Nation on Friday that his motion seeks to force the four to resign before they can be charged for their ‘actions that threatened to plunge the country into chaos’.

The motion, dated October 6, was received by the Office of the Senate Clerk, pending approval for its tabling for discussion by the House.

John Methu Nyandarua Senator

John Methu, who won the Nyandarua Senate seat on a UDA ticket. 

Photo credit: Courtesy

The motion also seeks to have the yet-to-be-constituted Senate Standing Committee on Justice Legal Affairs and Human Rights implement recommendations from the Supreme Court on the running of the IEBC.

The motion may, however, achieve little in its quest to have Ms Cherera, Ms Masit, Mr Wanderi and Mr Nyang’aya resign and subsequently be charged as such removals can only be done by the National Assembly.

Grounds for removal

Article 251 of the Constitution provides that commissioners can only be removed through a petition filed in the National Assembly and a subsequent formation of a tribunal by the President.

The commissioners can be removed only for serious violations of the Constitution or any other law, including a contravention of Chapter Six and gross misconduct.

Other grounds include physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of office, incompetence or bankruptcy.

Upon receiving a petition, the National Assembly considers it and, if it is satisfied that it discloses a ground under clause (1), sends it to the President.

On receiving a petition, the President may suspend the member or office holder pending the decision of a tribunal.

“The tribunal shall investigate the matter expeditiously, report on the facts and make a binding recommendation to the President, who shall act within 30 days,” reads Article 251 (6).

There are already two petitions filed in the National Assembly seeking the ouster of the four commissioners, who disowned the results that were used to declare Dr Ruto winner of the disputed presidential election.

Former Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera, leader of the Farmers Party, has filed a petition in Parliament to execute the ouster plan. Garissa Township MP Aden Duale also plans to file his petition.

“Their actions had the potential of plunging the country into chaos and they have to take responsibility. I expect the motion to be tabled by next week so that members can deliberate on it and give a way forward about the four commissioners,” said Mr Methu.

"Defeat will of the people"

The motion states that the four commissioners attempted to defeat the sovereign will of the people of Kenya espoused in Article 138(10) of the Constitution.

“Their actions were expressions of impunity and concerted effort to subvert the sovereign will of the people through the sabotage of the constitutional mandates of the Commission to conduct free, fair, transparent and verifiable elections, which go against their official calling and the oaths of office they swore to undertake,” it states.

Mr Methu, a 31-year-old first-time senator, wants the House to condemn the actions of the four commissioners and to call upon the IEBC to carry out the legal, policy and institutional reforms recommended by the Supreme Court.

He also wants the Senate’s legal affairs committee to study the Supreme Court’s ruling and introduce legislation that will seal existing loopholes in the electoral process.

Some of the reforms he wants to be implemented are the system used to hire IEBC commissioners so that all “individuals with integrity get appointed”.

The Supreme Court, in its full judgment, pointed out institutional dysfunctionality that undermines the operations of the IEBC in delivering free and credible polls.

The Chief Justice Martha Koome-led bench told Parliament to consider reviewing laws guiding the commission.

“The roles of the Chairperson, Commissioners, and the Chief Executive Officer, other staff and third parties should be clearly set out in both the legislative and administrative edicts as stipulated above,” the court said.