, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 6 – Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo now says the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission officials who are disgruntled by the ‘comeback’ of their embattled chairman Bethuel Kiplagat should seek redress in court.
Kilonzo told Capital News that the commission was free to file a fresh court application seeking to bar Kiplagat’s reinstatement, arguing that he has the right to take back the commission’s leadership position.
He noted that there was nothing barring Kiplagat from heading the commission as the timelines of the tribunal set up to investigate him had expired without any extensions.
When the tribunal was established in November 2010, Kiplagat went to court to challenge its jurisdiction saying it did not have a right to probe his past conduct.
“Kiplagat had every right to go to court and stop the tribunal from investigating him. The TJRC could have appealed against that decision but it didn’t and no other Kenyan has done so,” the minister observed.
Kilonzo further observed that it was wrong for Kiplagat to continue drawing a salary from the government without actually working for it saying it would be better if he either resigned or resumed duty.
He explained that state officials were entitled to half pay when suspended but that their arrears would be paid back in full if they were reinstated.
Kilonzo, who maintained that Kiplagat was still the TJRC Chairman, further urged the commissioners to put the matter to rest and focus on their pending work.
He added that the queries raised against Kiplagat’s character should have been raised before he was appointed but not after, as it amounted to character assassination.
“They need to reach a consensus and move forward because they still have a lot of work to do before they finally issue their report,” he said.
The minister said he would hold a meeting with the commission to devise a way forward if the former chairman and the commissioners were unable to resolve the stalemate, warning them against airing dirty linen in public.
“You can’t seek light on what you’re doing without creating shadows so my plea to the commission is that they put their act together so as to avoid contaminating their work,” he quipped.
TJRC top officials said on Thursday that they would ignore Kiplagat’s attempts to take over the commission saying they should have been consulted.
TJRC Chief Executive Officer Patricia Nyaundi and Acting Chairperson Tecla Namachanja both argued that the matter surrounding Kiplagat’s past conduct was still unsettled so he couldn’t just walk back into office.
“The commission has not received any official communication from the Ministry of Justice on the resumption of Amb Kiplagat as Chair nor held any discussions with him on the matter. He could not walk into the office without these decisions,” noted Namachanja.