Jack Wamboka
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Why Linturi's impeachment bid was doomed from the start

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Bumula MP Jack Wamboka (centre) speaks to journalists at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi regarding the failed impeachment of Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi.

Photo credit: File| Nation Media Group

A series of events emanating from legal loopholes and deliberate omissions by the majority side derailed the impeachment of Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi in the National Assembly.

The Nation has pieced together the events from when the motion received the support of 149 MPs to the composition of the select committee and the goings on during the two-day hearing that let Mr Linturi off the hook.

A constitutional requirement that impeachment motions targeting Cabinet secretaries be determined by a select committee of the National Assembly handed Mr Linturi a lifeline.

Article 152 (9) requires that once a motion on the impeachment of a CS is sent to the select committee and it finds the allegations unsubstantiated, no further action shall be taken on the issue.

MPs from the majority side took advantage of this provision to save Mr Linturi because the Standing Orders require them to provide a majority of members of the select committee.

With the Kenya Kwanza Alliance outnumbering opposition outfit Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party six to four and Jubilee Party having one slot, it was easier for the government side to dictate the outcome of the hearings.

A spirited fight by Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi to have the House overrule the committee was rejected by Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, who told him that there was no provision for such an action both in the Constitution and the Standing Orders.

“This House, according to the Standing Orders, is to have a select committee [consider the motion for the impeachment of a Cabinet secretary]. If the allegations are unsubstantiated, the matter ends there,” he said.

Mr Wandayi had argued that it was not the intention of the framers of the Constitution that a decision of the House could be countermanded by a group of 11 people in a select committee.

“A purposive interpretation of the law is that the report of that committee should have been subjected to validation of the whole house,” Mr Wandayi said.

Minority Whip Junet Mohamed claimed that he had known from the start that the motion would fail based on the composition of the committee.

“I saw the faces there ... I knew nothing was going to come of the [hearings],” Mr Mohamed said.

The Nation has also learnt that, even within Azimio, disagreement was rife over the people who were to sit in the committee. According to our sources, there was no consultation.

“We have a problem even amongst ourselves. I was not consulted on that list,” said a member of the Azimio leadership.

The Nation has also reliably learnt that, on May 1, just a day after the motion was approved and ahead of the debate, Mr Linturi met a senior parliamentary official on how to go about the matter. The CS, according to our sources, was shocked that 110 MPs had signed the motion.

During the meeting, the composition of the select committee was discussed and that is where it was agreed that the membership should be “friendly” to him.

The CS expressed fears that, if the matter came back to the House, he would be sent home.

Claims of bribery also rocked the select committee, with an unconfirmed report indicating that those from the majority side were offered Sh5 million while opposition MPs got Sh2 million.

The bribery claims were raised on the floor of the House by Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, who called on the Speaker to halt debate on the report until the claims were investigated.

“A disclosure has been made to me regarding claims of impropriety and misconduct by some members of the committee,” Dr Amollo said. Mr Jack Wamboka, who was the sponsor of the motion, supported the sentiments.

“Yes, there were allegations of money exchanging hands. It is known that people here have [received] huge sums of money,” Mr Wamboka said.

On Tuesday, the Bumula lawmaker posted on X that he will not give up despite the outcome of the motion.

Jack Wanami Wamboka

Bumula MP Jack Wanami Wamboka, the sponsor of the impeachment motion against Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi before the 11-member select committee on May 7, 2024.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

“We will not tire until justice is served ... and Linturi is dismissed,” Mr Wamboka said.

The rejection of calls to invite Agriculture Principal Secretary Paul Rono and the KEL Chemicals chief operations officer was also done intentionally to set the motion up for failure.

According to our sources, the select committee’s legal team outlined all the options of summoning the two giving reasons for each including that since they have been adversely mentioned during the hearings, they should be called to tell their side of the story.

This was however ignored as some MPs felt the two would testify against the CS and were likely to make the case for impeachment stronger.

The committee in its preliminary considerations of the issues raised by both parties had said that they would allow new witnesses to be summoned, as had been requested by Mr Wamboka.

During the hearings, three letters written by the PS and dated December 5, 2023, January 22, 2024 and March 20, 2024 to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) on the fake fertiliser scandal featured prominently during the hearing.

Mr Linturi had said that, when the issue came up, he was abroad but was in constant communication with the PS.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi before the committee hearing his impeachment trial.

Photo credit: File | Nation Meda Group

There are also reports that the National Assembly clerks’ office, which was supposed to provide technical support to the committee, also frustrated the minority side and were hostile any time they sought assistance.

Dr Amollo pointed out that members of such a committee should possess legal knowledge, should be independent and their integrity should not be in doubt.

The lawmaker added that those appointed had already taken a position on the matter and went with a preconceived mind.