NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 13 – Former Commissioner at the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Professor Joseph Gitile Naituli was Tuesday tasked to explain why he sought authority from a senior public officer before arresting a senior politician during his tenure at the agency.
A selection panel for the appointment of commissioners of the electoral agency were referring to a 2016 incident when the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, during a rally cautioned the local Maasai community in Narok against any attempts for them to dispose off their ancestral land.
Gitile, appearing before the selection panel, noted that upon conducting an investigation on Odinga, he later sought advice from a government official who warned against the move to arrest him.
“Sometimes you need to be careful, you could create a bigger problem than what you are trying to solve. When we say independent, we don’t mean a case where you cannot seek counsel, but when you need to make a critical decision, you need to seek counsel,” he told the panel.
While responding to concerns that he had breached the independence of the commission, Gitile told the seven-member panel that he exercised caution then in order to avert a potentially bigger problem.
He, however, clarified that the specific case did not rip him off his independence and that if appointed as a Commissioner of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), he is capable of making independent decisions without external influence or favor.
“I have a serious backbone,” Gitile said while he acknowledged the requirement that commissioners should be independent when exercising mandate.
The former NCIC Commissioner was the third candidate to face the panel on the fifth day of the interviews.
Others were National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) board member Irene Cherop and former EACC Vice Chairperson Irene Keino.