AG wants security of tenure in order to serve freely

August 18, 2014 4:42 pm
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Muigai told the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly that security of tenure would ensure Attorneys General give an independent opinion to the president and the government without the fear of being sacked/FILE
Muigai told the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly that security of tenure would ensure Attorneys General give an independent opinion to the president and the government without the fear of being sacked/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 18 – Attorney General Githu Muigai has called for the re-introduction of a security of tenure clause for him and future holders of his office.

Muigai told the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly that security of tenure would ensure Attorneys General give an independent opinion to the president and the government without the fear of being sacked.

“I can tell you this without fear of contradiction – I have been in that office for three years – it is the AG that needs security of tenure more than any other public officer that I have met. Every day you are called upon to advice on the gravest possible question,” the AG said.

This emerged after the House team which is handling a petition by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) seeking to eject the AG from office raised concerns that both the Constitution and the Office of the Attorney-General Act do not enable Parliament to take such an action.

Githu explained that the crafters of the laws had transferred independence from his office to that of the Director of Public Prosecutions, leaving him to serve at the prerogative of the President.

As the law stands presently, Parliament has the responsibility of approving the president’s nominee to the office of Attorney General. However, MPs have no powers to cause the removal of an Attorney General. The removal of the AG from office has been left at the prerogative of the president.

“I think you find enough material to provide some parliamentary oversight over that process including the process of discipline that do not necessarily amount to removal because there are many disciplinary processes between hiring and firing which parliament can oversight.

Section 12 of the Office of the Attorney-General Act empowers the President to remove the AG from office in case of gross violation, gross misconduct, bankruptcy and incompetence.

However, the parliamentarians are considering amending the legislation to allow the President to set up a tribunal to look into the AG’s conduct and recommend his dismissal.

The AG has asked the parliamentary committee to dismiss a petition by the LSK which seeks to remove him from office because it will be in contempt of court.

“The AG we have right now is a special office, he is not a Cabinet Secretary but seats in the Cabinet and he is also not an independent office holder. The AG is among three permanent members of the Cabinet after the president and his deputy; I have seen the petition overlooked this,” he said.

The Chairman of the Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs Samuel Chepkonga had earlier asked the LSK to draft a law to provide a procedure for removing the Attorney General from office.

Chepkonga read mischief in the law denying the National Assembly it’s a role to recommend the AG’s suitability to continue serving in office.

Committee members Moses Cheboi, Tom Kajwang and Peter Kaluma noted that it was unacceptable for the AG to have created a law that insulated him from being sacked.

The Law Society of Kenya Chairman Eric Mutua said they will be able to submit their proposed amendments to the Office of the Attorney-General Act by Friday.

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