IEBC commissioners who disowned Ruto’s win ‘in trouble’

IEBC commissioners who disowned Ruto’s win ‘in trouble’

By Peter Ochieng

Four Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners who disowned President William Samoei Ruto’s presidential win might be removed from office.

IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera, commissioners Justus Nyang’aya, Irene Masit and Francis Wanderi disputed Ruto’s August 09, 2022, presidential win, minutes before IEBC Chairman Wafula Wanyonyi Chebukati declared the results.

As such, the National Assembly has received petitions seeking to remove them from office.

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula on Tuesday confirmed that his office had received four petitions against the four commissioners. They are from the Republican Party, Dennis Nthumbi, Geoffrey Lagat and Owuor Steve Jerry.

Speaker Wetang’ula said he has committed the petitions to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, to formally kick-start the process of removing them from office.

Members of the committee have 14 days to assess the evidence submitted by the petitioners to see if it meets the threshold for Parliament to compel the president to form a tribunal.

According to Article 251 of the constitution, a member of an independent office may be removed from office only for serious violation of the constitution or any other law, including contravention of Chapter Six, gross misconduct, whether in the performance of the member’s or office holder’s functions or otherwise, physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office, incompetence; or bankruptcy.

“A person desiring the removal of a member of a commission or of a holder of an independent office on any ground specified in clause (1) may present a petition to the National Assembly setting out the alleged facts constituting that ground,” reads section two of the Article.

Section three reads, “The National Assembly shall consider the petition and, if it is satisfied that it discloses a ground under clause (1), shall send the petition to the President.”

On receiving a petition under clause (3), the President may suspend the member or office holder pending the outcome of the complaint; and shall appoint a tribunal in accordance with clause (5).

The law states that the tribunal shall consist of a person who holds or has held office as a judge of a superior court, who shall be the chairperson; at least two persons who are qualified to be appointed as High Court judges; and one other member who is qualified to assess the facts in respect of the particular ground for removal.

The tribunal shall investigate the matter expeditiously, report on the facts and make a binding recommendation to the President, who shall act in accordance with the recommendation within thirty days.

However, any person suspended under this Article is entitled to continue to receive one-half of the remuneration and benefits of the office while suspended.

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