NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 1 – The Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has dismissed preliminary objections raised by IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan and Commissioners challenging its mandate.
A ruling read by Committee Co-Chairmen, Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi and Siaya Senator James Orengo, said that the probe into the allegations facing the commission will continue, citing that no rights of the commissioners had been violated.
“We have already established above that the mandate and process of this committee are independent of and distinct from the processes for the removal of a member of the commission, under Article 251 of the Constitution. Consequently the objection by the commission that the discharge of the mandate of this committee would affect any process under Article 251 if any were to be set in motion is premature and anticipatory,” read Senator Orengo.
They further denied that claims by the commission that the committee “had gone fishing” for the allegations against Hassan’s team in order to remove them from office.
He also clarified that the commissioners were invited to appear before the committee contradicting media reports that the House team had issued summons compelling them to appear before it.
The IEBC team was guided that they will not be compelled to respond to any of the allegations.
“The commission in accordance with the rules of natural justice has been informed of the allegations received by the committee against the commission generally, specific commissioners and specific members of the secretariat. It is therefore open to the commission, its commissioners or secretariat to respond to these allegations. It is equally open to the commission to opt not to respond to these allegations and to instead make representation on any of the other thematic areas,” Orengo said while delivering the committee’s ruling.
In a response to the ruling, Hassan said individual IEBC Commissioners who have allegations against them will make written responses to the Joint Select Committee on IEBC.
The Parliamentary Select Committee adjourned its morning sitting after Hassan, IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba and eight commissioners declined to answer questions saying their rights were being violated.
In their preliminary objections raised before the committee, Hassan argued that the Select Committee cannot determine their removal, as mandated (by the resolution passed by the Senate and National Assembly) since this violates Article 251 of the Constitution which stipulates the procedure for the removal of a commissioner of an independent commission.
“The committee has now become a petitioner by collecting the allegations from different parties and putting them into a summary and putting it in a letter and now we are being told by the same committee to come back and respond to those allegations. Article 251 of the Constitution vests the National Assembly with an important a role in the constitutional process of removing a commissioners of the IEBC, that role is to hear petitions that have been brought for the removal of the commissioners by the public,” he told the committee sitting.
Hassan, chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba and eight commissioners were appearing before the select committee to answer questions on their suitability to remain in office.
He charged that the House committee had compiled allegations against them in a letter and turned themselves into petitioners.