NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 21 – Immigration Principal Secretary nominee Gordon Kihalangwa has said he was justified to suspend passports of top NASA leaders who participated in the controversial mock swearing-in of Raila Odinga last month.
Kihalangwa, who spoke during vetting by MPs Wednesday said passports are government property hence the justification for the suspension.
“A passport is a government property and it can be recalled either for the purpose of investigation or certain clarity that is even written in the passport itself. An individual actually holds it on behalf of the government,” said Kihalangwa.
Immediately after Odinga’s oath, the government suspended passports for at least 14 senior NASA officials and those affected received letters from the Immigration Department directing them to surrender the travel documents within 21 days.
But on Wednesday while defending his nomination, Kihalangwa told the Paul Koinange (Kiambaa) led committee that none of the 14 affected leaders wrote to his department to show cause why their passports should not be suspended.
“Among the 14 individuals it is only Senator Samuel Ongeri who complied and communicated to my office but the rest of the individuals never responded,” said Kihalangwa.
Kihalangwa also told the lawmakers that Miguna Miguna’s deportation to Canada and the subsequent cancellation of his passport was done in accordance with the law.
“Miguna left the country in 1986 and in 1988 he was a Canadian citizen and by that time Kenya was not allowing dual citizenship. In 2009 Miguna came back to Kenya and for some reason he was given a passport. He was born in this country but he negated other his right to obtain a Kenyan passport,” said Kihalangwa.
On Monday, the affected NASA individuals however got a reprieve after the High Court temporarily lifted the government decision to suspend passports key among them NASA strategist David Ndii, Siaya Senator James Orengo and businessman Jimi Wanjigi.
While granting the orders, Justice John Mativo directed the matter be filed and served upon the respondents who were also ordered to appear for an inter-party hearing on Monday, February 26, 2018.
Meanwhile, Kihalangwa urged the Jubilee dominated committee to approve his nomination saying he was best suited to handle the docket because he is currently heading the department.
He added that his long career in the military is an added advantage because immigration is more a security department which needs requisite expertise.
“I have in the government for the last 38 years and my first 33 years I have worked as a military officer. My understanding and knowledge in security is something that I love,” said Kihalangwa.