Lawmakers set stage to eject six JSC chiefs

November 7, 2013 3:43 pm
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The adoption of the report comes a day after the High Court warned Members of Parliament against debating the report until the matter is heard and determined by the courts/XINHUA FILE
The adoption of the report comes a day after the High Court warned Members of Parliament against debating the report until the matter is heard and determined by the courts/XINHUA FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 7 – The National Assembly has adopted a report recommending that President Uhuru Kenyatta appoints a tribunal to investigate six Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Commissioners, in a bid to eject them from office.

In its findings, the Justice and Legal Affairs committee of the National Assembly recommended that President Kenyatta names a tribunal to investigate commissioners Ahmednasir Abdullahi, Reverend Samuel Kobia, Christine Mango, Justice Mohamed Warsame, Emily Ominde and Florence Mwangangi.

The adoption of the report comes a day after the High Court warned Members of Parliament against debating the report until the matter is heard and determined by the courts.

But Speaker Muturi said the courts should not interfere with the workings of the National Assembly.

“Parliament cannot pass a resolution here saying criminal ‘A’ appearing before this or that court should be acquitted. Similarly, it is Trite Law that the courts cannot and must not direct what this House does. That I will defend to the hilt,” Muturi said after Kisumu West Town MP Olago Aluoch asked him for his guidance.

“It has never happened that someone in their right mind would take the Parliament of the Republic of Kenya to court for exercising it oversight role,” he said.

Committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga had earlier cited the powers vested in the House to oversight government institutions as his reason to initiate debate on the report.

MPs Peter Kaluma, Asman Kamama, Priscilla Nyokabi were among those who supported the report which arose after a citizen petitioned the House over what he termed as a violation of the Constitution and gross misconduct.

“I want to confirm that we did summon the JSC. Instead, we received a letter from their lawyer telling us that we should exercise respect and constraint… and then what happened, is we saw the JSC before a judge seeking to gag Parliament from discharging its mandate,” Kaluma explained.

“Having been in this Parliament for 11 years, I have seen very senior people like (the late Internal Security Minister) George Saitoti, (former Finance Minister David) Mwiraria and even (former Finance Minister) Amos Kimunya stepping aside but they come back after they were cleared. Why do you want to clear these people in the House, let them go and be cleared by a tribunal,” Kamama urged.

The MPs seemed exasperated by the fact that the JSC had on two occasions snubbed the committee’s summonses to appear and respond to the allegations contained in the petition filed by one Nicholas Riungu.

MPs said the JSC had flouted a directive by National Assembly Speaker Muturi which ordered that anyone who is summoned by a House Committee ought to personally appear and plead to have the matter rescheduled.

The MPs said they were working on a clock – the Speaker gave them 14 days to process a petition- and they were unwilling to shift the deadline to accommodate the JSC’s request for a new date. The deadline for the report is Thursday next week.

However, MPs Chris Wamalwa, Aluoch and Manson Nyamweya were among those who objected to the report.

“I would like to caution the House that even as we debate this Motion, let it not be based on emotion or the fact that the commission refused to appear before the committee let us be dispassionate about this so that we set a precedent that will be valid for years to come,” stated Aluoch who is one of the two MPs to gave a dissenting vote when the committee was adopting the report before it was tabled.

Vice-Chairperson Nyokabi also dissented but changed her mind on the floor of the House.

“If you look at the plans to purchase the CJ a house, the purchase of the Court of Appealing Building at Elgon Place you will find that, the Chief Registrar (of the Judiciary), JSC they were all involved, none of this guys is innocent,” Nyamweya said amid chants of ‘that’s why they should go!’

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