, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 20 – The National Assembly has approved the nomination of John Mututho as chairman of the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA).
The MPs overruled a recommendation by the Committee on Administration and National Security which had rejected Mututho citing two pending court cases against him – including a Sh41 million criminal suit.
Committee Chairman Asman Kamama had however said his team was rejecting Mututho’s appointment on principle and with a heavy heart.
“In terms of qualification, Mututho ticks the box, he has the requisite personality to execute the mandate of this authority; it was really hard for us to make this decision to recommend the House rejects his appointment,” Kamama said.
However, Majority Coalition Chief Whip Katoo Ole Metito and his Minority Deputy Whip Chris Wamalwa led MPs in amending the report by claiming that Mututho had not been granted a fair hearing as outlined in Article 50 (2) (III) of the Constitution.
“This Parliament once upon a time rejected, an appointment of one Kenyan for only one reason, that is he does not have passion for the job, why do you reject the one who has passion” he said in reference to the Committee report which termed Mututho as the best placed person for the job.
“The issue here is for Mututho to wait and when the Court rules (he is guilty) it is my humble opinion that he resigns,” Wamalwa said.
Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo argued that like President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, (who are facing war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court) Mututho should be deemed innocent until proven guilty and it was therefore bad to bar him.
“In the last Parliament we set extremely high standards of accountability in this country, in March this year we lowered those standards. The constitution talks about equality. The rod used on one, must be equally used on the other.…if he has been charged he should serve the position he’s seeking for until he’s proven guilty because we lowered the standards,” she said during the debate on the appointment of Mututho as NACADA chairman.
Wajir South MP Diriye Abdulahi’s only dissenting voice to mood of the House was drowned out by jeers from MPs who disagreed with his stand, prompting Speaker Justin Muturi to intervene so that he could finish his debate.
“Somebody who has cheated Kenyans out of Sh41 million is not a joke and therefore should not be approved for this job because we are going to set a very dangerous precedent if we fail to observe Article Six on Ethics and Integrity,” he said amid jeers.
Magarini MP Harrison Kombe, Dagorreti North MP Simba Arati and David Gikaria of Nakuru Town East claimed that the case which has been in court for 15 years is being used to block Mututho’s appointment.
“You know Mr. Speaker, this is a country where everyone is court, starting from the top to the bottom; just look at the President and his Deputy who are facing international criminal charges,” stated Arati.
Mututho’s earlier appointment in September was revoked by President Uhuru Kenyatta after some MPs termed it illegal due to lack of parliamentary approval.
Following the National Assembly’s approval, the president is now free to gazette Mututho as head of the drug abuse watchdog for three years.