Raila Odinga and Passaris

ODM party leader Raila Odinga. Mr Odinga and top party officials amended a report by the party’s disciplinary committee to save Nairobi MP Esther Passaris (inset) and some ‘rebel’ MPs.

| Nation Media Group

Revealed: How Raila 'altered' ODM report to save Passaris, some 'rebel MPs'

Opposition leader Raila Odinga radically altered the stinging proposals and harsher punishments recommended by the ODM disciplinary committee in a last-minute bid to save three rebel MPs, Nation can reveal.

Details of the report by the Prof Benard Sihanya-led committee have also lifted the lid on the drama and back-and-forth between the team and the rebels during the disciplinary hearings.

The report, obtained by the Nation, also gives credence to how the fallout within the opposition Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition may have been triggered by the allocation of lucrative parliamentary committees.

Mr Odinga and top party officials sitting in the party's National Executive Council (NEC) amended the document to drop the expulsion of one of the accused MPs.

The meeting also revised the fines for some of the rebels from a high of Sh5 million recommended by the committee to a low of Sh1 million. Recommendations to suspend some of the rebel MPs from parliamentary committees for a period of 12 months were also dropped.

According to the report, the disciplinary committee had recommended the expulsion of Nairobi Woman MP Esther Passaris along with MPs Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Phelix Odiwuor (Lang'ata) and Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda.

President William Ruto with a section of ODM leaders at State House on February 7, 2023.

Photo credit: Courtesy

But when the party officials emerged from the NEC meeting to address the press, in a briefing attended by Ms Passaris, the party ordered her to apologise and pay a Sh250,000 fine.

The Nairobi MP was dragged before the committee for supporting the controversial Finance Bill, 2023 against the position of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition.

"In fact, during the hearing, she (Ms Passaris) told the disciplinary committee(DC) that she would again defy him and vote in favour of the bill if it came back to the National Assembly. She was therefore unrepentant for her action," the report said.

The report adds: "Her reasons for voting for the bill were many and some contradictory: interest of her constituents, her conscience, she is on the Housing Committee so that the government has resources, as an MP (she) has the right to vote as she wishes.

It recommended that "Esther Passaris be expelled from the ODM party".

The punishments for Uriri MP Mark Nyamita and his Rongo counterpart Paul Abuor were also radically changed.

The report had recommended that Mr Nyamita be suspended for a period of 12 months from all parliamentary committees he sits on as an ODM member.

"That during the 12 months, the member be disqualified from (a) holding any elective or appointive office within the ODM party and (b) holding any office in and on behalf of the ODM party," reads the report in our possession.

The report adds: "That the member be fined Sh5,000,000 to be paid within 60 days of the NEC decision, failing which the Sh5,000,000 shall accrue interest at prevailing market rates until paid in full. However, after the NEC meeting, the MP was ordered to pay a fine of Sh1 million and to apologise.

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Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua when he hosted ODM MPs Phelix Odiwuor (Lang’ata), Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Paul Abuor (Rongo), Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo) and Tom Ojienda (Senator, Kisumu) at his Harambee House Annex office on Friday. 

Photo credit: Courtesy | DPPS

The report notes that MP Nyamita was "initially, and in the presence of a group of lawyers, very stubborn. But once alone with the DC, he was very cooperative...by his actions, he seemed remorseful". The lawmaker was dragged before the disciplinary committee for promoting the position of Kenya Kwanza in violation of the Political Parties Act, 2011.

The report had also recommended that Mr Abuor be suspended from parliamentary committees for 12 months.

"That the ODM party monitor the member for the next twelve (12) months to ensure that his conduct is in line with the party constitution in terms of Article 11 and Section 14A of the Political Parties Act, 2011 and the Code of Conduct. If the said member is found to be in breach of these provisions, he shall be subject to disciplinary proceedings," the report recommends.

He was also ordered to pay a fine of Sh5 million, which was revised to Sh1 million.

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According to the report, Mr Abuor told the committee that his trouble with the party started when some of them were shortchanged in the allocation of parliamentary committee seats.

"He went further and presented evidence where the highest allocation to an individual was five committees while a number of other members were on one committee. He admitted that he had visited State House to seek development projects," the report said.

Sources in the party said the changes in the report were made after sustained 'lobbying and pleading' by some of the rebel MPs.

But ODM chairman John Mbadi said the NEC has the power to make changes to a report by the party's disciplinary committee, downplaying any behind-the-scenes lobbying by some of the rescued members.

"The disciplinary committee can make a recommendation but the NEC has the power to uphold the recommendations, make changes or drop them altogether," Mr Mbadi said.

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The report describes Senator Ojienda as rude, citing the use of derogatory language against party officials, including Mr Odinga. The report also describes Mr Ojienda as the leader of the rebel MPs. It notes that the senior lawyer refused to be questioned by the complainant's lawyer because he was "junior".

"He was rude to the DC throughout and used derogatory language about ODM, ODM members, the DC, party leader, complainant. He told the DC that he will break any law to get what he wants. This despite the fact that he had signed the ODM Code of Conduct, a product of the laws of Kenya. But he wanted the same laws to protect him," the report says.

It adds: "He appeared but spent more than half of the more than three hours taking the DC round and round, including deceiving the DC hearing that he needed seven minutes to go and get a lawyer. Instead he went and gave a media conference. He eventually came back with 3 lawyers who he never gave a chance to say a word.

The report recommends that as a result of his conduct, the senator should be deemed to have resigned from the ODM party and that ODM should proceed with the process of removing him from the party's membership list.

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The report cites Odiwuor for insubordination, describing how he refused to appear before the committee.

"In one of the meetings, he stated that he was ready to lose his seat if that was what his support for Ruto would cost him. In his response to the show cause letter, he said he had a responsibility to bring development to the people of Langata," the report said.

Mr Omondi, Mr Odhiambo and Mr Ochanda also failed to appear before the committee, instead sending lawyers to appear on their behalf without proof of instructions. According to the report, they said they visited State House to bring development to their respective constituencies.